Critics slam state for medical marijuana application backlog

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health has such a large backlog of applications for medical marijuana identification cards the state auditor has called it a public health emergency.

The average time for processing a medical marijuana ID card is now 43 days, which is down from the 60-day average in June but still exceeds the 30-day limit set by state law, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

The department is working to process applications for both new patients and those seeking renewals, agency spokesman David Morgan said. “We take our mission to provide safe access to medicine for New Mexico’s qualified medical cannabis patients seriously,” Morgan said.

Patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program have increased rapidly from about 14,000 in 2015 to 26,568 as of June. Current state law requires the Department of Health to approve or deny applications for ID cards within 30 days. Cards expire after one year, so qualified patients must also apply for renewals.

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