NM cannabis producer challenges new DOH rules

A high-profile medical cannabis producer filed a petition in a state district court last week, asking a judge to invalidate rules recently put in place by the New Mexico Department of Health. 

In the petition, lawyers for cannabis producer Ultra Health argued that many of the recently adopted rules regarding plant and product testing, product labels and facility safety standards are “arbitrary and capricious.”

Last year, the state’s Medical Cannabis Program, which is part of the DOH, started the rule change process with a series of public meetings, which carried over to early this year. The rules, which range from pesticide and chemical testing to reciprocity for already approved cannabis patients from other states, went into effect earlier this month. But Ultra Health’s petition focuses on the new standards for producers, some of which the petition says would increase the financial burdens for patients. 

“Producers, who already pay well over $100,000 per year for their license and are precluded by federal law from taking any income tax deductions, will have to pay for the increased testing burden and will pass along the costs to patients,” the petition reads. 

A DOH spokesman wouldn’t say if or when the department would respond to the request to annul the new rules. 

“The Department of Health does not comment on pending litigation,” DOH spokesman David Morgan said. 

Arguably a perennial thorn in the side of the department, Ultra Health and its CEO Duke Rodriguez have filed numerous legal actions against the state over issues like the legality of displaying a cannabis plant at the state fair and increasing the number of plants producers can grow. Brian Egolf, who also serves as the state’s speaker of the House, is one of two lawyers who filed the petition.  

Testing and labels 

The new rules from the DOH spell out specific standards for testing plants for fungus, pesticides and heavy metals. But in the petition, Ultra Health’s lawyers argued that the department failed to show evidence that the safe level of contaminants is based on studies or science.  

“While Petitioner Ultra Health agrees that some testing is necessary to protect the safety of cannabis patients, DOH’s rules do not draw the necessary connection between the arbitrarily chosen testing parameters and specific measurements of patient safety,” the petition states. 

The petition also asserts that the DOH simply copied regulations from other states like Colorado and Oregon, where both medical and recreational-use cannabis are legal.

108 new cases and six new deaths related to COVID-19

The state Department of Health announced 108 additional test positive cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths related to the type of coronavirus. The new test positive cases brings the total number of cases of COVID-19 in the state to 7,364 and the total number of deaths related to the disease to 335. DOH released basic information about the deceased:

A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 70s from McKinley County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. She was a resident of Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup.A male in his 20s from McKinley County was hospitalized.A male in his 50s from McKinley County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 70s from Rio Arriba County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 60s from San Juan County had underlying conditions. The state has processed 183,544 tests as of Thursday, an increase of 4,001 tests since Wednesday.

164 new cases, including seven new cases at federal facilities

The state announced 164 new cases of COVID-19, including seven new individuals held in federal agencies at the Otero County Prison Facility. The new cases, announced through the state Department of Health, bring the total to 5,662 cases of the type of coronavirus that causes respiratory illness. The state also announced 11 new deaths related to the virus, which brings the total of deaths to 253. 

There are 223 individuals hospitalized for the virus in the state, an increase of 14. In a press conference on Friday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said 52 of these patients are on ventilators. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico.

DOH announces six more COVID-19-related deaths and 153 test positive cases Friday

The state announced six additional deaths related to COVID-19 and 153 new confirmed cases of the respiratory illness during a live press conference Friday. The highest single-day increase of confirmed cases took place Thursday, with 169 test positive cases. The number announced on Friday indicates a slight decrease from Thursday’s new cases. With the six additional deaths the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New Mexico is 84, as of Friday. The additional positive cases brings the total number to 2,521.

87 additional positive tests for COVID-19 and two additional deaths, state announced Saturday

The state announced 87 additional positive tests for COVID-19 and two additional deaths related to the respiratory illness, which brought the total number of related deaths in New Mexico to 53. Update (4/19/2020): Two additional COVID-19-related deaths, more than 100 hospitalized

The total number of test positive cases are now 1,798. As of late Saturday, there were 92 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, four fewer than Friday’s announcement. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

State: 62 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths

New Mexico state health officials announced 62 additional positive tests for COVID-19 and five additional deaths related to the respiratory illness late Tuesday. This brings the total number of test positive cases of COVID-19 in the state to 1,407 and the total number of deaths to 36. Update (4/15/2020): DOH: 80 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

As of Tuesday, there are 82 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include state residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

62 new cases announced Monday, bringing total COVID-19 cases to 686

State health officials announced 62 new COVID-19 test positive cases Monday, raising the total to 686 for the state. Update (4/7/2020): DOH: Clusters at two pueblos; total NM COVID-19 cases nears 800, deaths reach 13

The state Department of Health announcement on Monday includes three additional positive cases from La Vida Llena long-term care facility in Albuquerque, where one additional resident and two additional staff have now tested positive for the type of coronavirus. The amount of deaths related to COVID-19 in the state remains at 12. Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

16 new cases in Bernalillo County1 new case in Chaves County1 new case in Doña Ana County2 new cases in Grant County4 new cases in McKinley County25 new cases in San Juan County11 new cases in Sandoval County2 new cases in Santa Fe County

Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 686 positive tests for COVID-19:

Bernalillo County: 262Catron County: 1Chaves County: 14Cibola County: 14Curry County: 6Doña Ana County: 30Eddy County: 4Grant County: 3Lea County: 2Lincoln County: 1Los Alamos County: 2McKinley County: 44Otero County: 3Rio Arriba County: 6Roosevelt County: 1Sandoval County: 114San Juan County: 83San Miguel County: 1Santa Fe County: 64Socorro County: 5Taos County: 13Torrance County: 6Valencia County: 7

The state has processed 21,825 COVID-19 tests. That’s an increase of 2,689 over the previous day’s total.

One new COVID-19 death in NM, 51 new positive cases

The state announced 51 new test positive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total in the state to 543 test positive cases and one additional death related to the virus. Update (4/5): 81 new COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, 1 more death

A man in his 60s from McKinley County with COVID-19 died Saturday. He had been hospitalized and had underlying medical conditions, according to the state. This brings the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New Mexico to 11. The announcement Saturday includes additional positive tests from the La Vida Llena long-term care facility in Albuquerque, where five additional residents and eight additional staff members have now tested positive for the type of coronavirus, according to the state.

Former congressional candidate Carol Miller tested positive for COVID-19

Former Independent and Green Party congressional candidate Carol Miller tested positive for COVID-19 more than 21 days ago. Miller ran for Congress as an Independent in 2008 and for the Green Party in a special election in 1997. Miller is 73, which puts her in a high-risk category. But she is asymptomatic. She hasn’t had any of the symptoms – no fever, cough or shortness of breath – of this type of coronavirus.

State announces new public health orders to protect PPE supply

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced two new public health orders from the state Department of Health Wednesday to protect the supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers in the state. The orders are necessary to try to slow the spread COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, according to the state. There has been a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers across the nation and many have taken to Twitter to plead for more. On Monday nurses held up signs in front of an Oakland hospital to protest the need for more personal protective equipment. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
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