New Mexico Health Department, dispensary in legal battle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A different kind of display at the New Mexico State Fair turned into a big battle. A medical marijuana dispensary won Monday’s legal victory, but the New Mexico Department of Health vows to fight on with its sanction against Ultra Health.

“420 is symbolic within the cannabis culture,” said Leonard Salgado, vice president for business development for Ultra Health.

The state wants Ultra Health’s seven dispensaries in five New Mexico counties to be closed from April 17 through April 21.

“The financial impact to our organization would be anywhere from $180,000 to $200,000 statewide,” Salgado said.

That sanction goes back to the State Fair and Ultra Health’s display of a pot plant.

“Basically they claimed that having a single seedling at the State Fair was a violation of our production plan,” Salgado said.

A judge on Monday granted the dispensary a stay, which means, for now, the state can’t shut the dispensaries down for five days.

“It’s a real win for the patient because they can continue to have access to that medication,” he said.

But Santa Fe District Judge David Thomson also wrote that the dispensary’s display “was at the very best misguided and the Department of Health is rightly concerned.”

Thomson added, “The seedling should be treated as medicine and not an item for show and tell.”

No one from the Department of Health could go on camera, but in a statement said in part, “We feel the five-day suspension and [$100] fine is appropriate action for discipline based on the rules governing the [medical cannabis] program.”

“We emphasize that the NMDOH Medical Cannabis Program carefully considered patients when determining sanctions against New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health. If the sanction is upheld, patients will not lose access to medicine because of this disciplinary action as there are other Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPPs) available in the same communities where New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health operates,” the statement said.

“Today’s stay is not the final ruling. It simply puts a hold on NMDOH enforcing these sanctions until the full appeal is heard in District Court. We will continue to defend the sanctions as we allow the legal process to run its course,” the state said on Monday.

Both the dispensary and the state say they will fight vigorously in District Court.

The judge did keep that $100 fine in place.

Last year, Ultra Health said the state of New Mexico has more than $50 million in sales related to medical cannabis.

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