NM deems medical cannabis essential during COVID-19 restrictions – New Mexico Political Report

As New Mexicans brace themselves for an unknown period of restricted over the counter medicine purchases due to the growing number of positive COVID-19 tests, the state’s Department of Health said medical cannabis patients can rest assured that their access to medicine won’t be interrupted. 

In a letter to medical cannabis producers, patients and other stakeholders, Medical Cannabis Program Director Dr. Dominick Zurlo said medical cannabis Licensed Non Profit Producers (LNPP) qualify as essential services under Secretary of Health Kathyleen Kunkel’s latest emergency health order. 

“Accordingly, LNPPs are not required to limit operations pursuant to that order,” Zurlo wrote.

Medical cannabis patient cards that are set to expire between March 11 and June 13 will get a 90 day extension, according to Zurlo. He also encouraged patients to use telemedicine to consult with a medical professional for new patient and card renewal recommendations.

Anticipating a possible staffing shortage for producers, Zurlo said the department is also “temporarily suspending” criminal background checks for new employees until producers send in their relicensing applications, which are due in June.

But, Zurlo said, both patients and producers should continue to take precautionary steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“As previously distributed to the LNPPs and Dispensaries, the Medical Cannabis Program recommends using pick-up, curb-side, or delivery service,” he wrote. 

An order by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham closed all state offices for in-person visits, which includes the Medical Cannabis Program. In his letter, Zurlo said the program’s office doors are closed to the public, but that employees continue

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