The state of New Mexico is officially issuing out-of-state medical cannabis cards. Most people would never consider traveling without bringing their medications. It’s pretty difficult to enjoy your vacation if, for example, you’re in severe pain. The same is true if you happen to be dealing with any of the long lists of symptoms that medical cannabis is known to be helpful treating; nausea, migraine, PTSD, specific types of seizures unresponsive to alternative treatments, and more. In fact, if you are one of the many Americans successfully using cannabis to control their epilepsy, a truly debilitating condition, you may choose not to leave the state at all. According to one article by The Guardian, an Australian study found that 14% of those with epilepsy were effectively managing the condition using cannabis; “of those, 90% of adults and 71% of children with epilepsy, according to their parents, reported success in managing seizures.” For medical cannabis patients, traveling out-of-state is intimidating, and at times, even seemingly impossible, task. Medical cannabis patients that break state laws are subject to criminal arrest and prosecution. Last August, a Rhode Island medical cannabis patient was arrested for drug possession in York County, Pennsylvania. So, despite medical (and recreational) legalization booming across the country, in general, medical marijuana patients are only able to access cannabis in their home states. New Mexico will be the first state to begin issuing medical cannabis registration cards to out of state residents. Last month, District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid decided in favor of permitting non-residents to join New Mexico’s medical program. Since then, three people hailing from out-of-state have successfully been issued medical cannabis cards, following the court ruling in their favor. The judge’s ruling clearly states, “The plain language of the current definition of the qualified patient indicates that the qualified patient need not be a New Mexico resident.” Moreover, said Judge Biedscheid, “[the] DOH’s requirement of a copy of a New Mexico driver’s license is, in and of itself, a violation of the law even as to New Mexico residents.” Whether additional out-of-state cards will be issued by the state of New Mexico remains unknown; those three patients who received registration cards last week also received a letter from the Department of Health stating “that it intends to appeal the judge’s ruling and the card could ultimately be revoked, depending on the appeal’s outcome.” A spokesperson for Ultra Health LLC, one of the largest medical cannabis producers participating in the state’s medical program, said in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, “The judge made a very clear determination – without any confusion – that New Mexico residency is plainly and unambiguously not a requirement to receive a three-year medical cannabis patient registry card.” Dr. Sue Sisley, a cannabis researcher at Arizona’s Scottsdale Research Institute, added, “It’s appropriate that if patients are legally allowed to get access to medical cannabis in their home state that when they’re traveling, they should be granted similar access.” To register as an out-of-state medical cannabis patient in New Mexico, prior to travel, visit the New Mexico Department of Health website here.

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