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.