'We are the fastest growing sector in New Mexico’s economy' - Ultra Health medical cannabis CEO
Crop that Generated More Sales than Chile Refused State Certification
UPDATED: Ads Tourism Department statement
BY ABQ FREE PRESS STAFF
Apparently, New Mexico won’t be leaping into the marijuana tourism business any time soon.
The state Tourism Department denied “New Mexico True” certification to Ultra Health, which operates five medical cannibas stores in New Mexico even though the company’s product is wholly produced in New Mexico.
“Thank you for your interest and application to participate in the New Mexico True Certified program,” Aimee Barabe, director of marketing outreach and partnerships at the tourism department.
“Cannabis is still illegal under federal law and New Mexico limits consumption for medical purposes only with a prescription,” Barabe wrote in a June 24 email denying the certification request.
“The Tourism Department primarily advertises/markets outside of New Mexico, including the New Mexico True Certified program, and therefore we cannot your application for participation in the program,” she wrote.
Heather Brigante, a spokesperson for the tourism department, defended the denial.
“New Mexico True helps place a national spotlight on some of the state’s finest products that are made, grown, and born and raised in New Mexico, for example, handcrafted wool blankets, New Mexico raised beef, and chile-infused mustards,” she said. “These are products that can be enjoyed on vacation and taken back home. As you know, a medical cannabis card is required to purchase that product in New Mexico. Therefore, it’s not available to people outside of the state.”
Duke Rodriguez, CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Ultra Health, objected to the denial, saying medical cannabis is legal under New Mexico law and his company’s products are grown and processed wholly within New Mexico “and therefore fully meet the criteria to be considered in the program.”
New Mexico has between 25,000 and 30,000 medical cannabis patients – most of them in the Albuquerque Metro area. “We are the fastest growing sector in New Mexico’s economy,” Rodriguez said.
It is estimated that New Mexico medical cannabis sales will reach $45 million in sales in 2016 – more than the $41.1 million generated by the state’s chile crop. New Mexico craft beers, many of which are New Mexico True-certified, generate about $25 million in sales.