New Mexico cannabis growers press state to increase plant-count limits

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Five of New Mexico’s medical cannabis cultivators, including the state’s largest operator, are requesting that regulators more than triple plant-count limits immediately to avert a supply shortage this summer.

The request came in a letter to state officials this week, according to the Albuquerque Journal, only days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an adult-use legalization measure into law.

Recreational marijuana sales aren’t expected to start until April 2022.

But the new law also strengthens the state’s medical cannabis program and, according to the five growers, would enable MMJ patients to purchase larger quantities of marijuana beginning June 29.

Plant-count limits have long been a source of tension between producers and regulators in New Mexico.

The growers argued in their letter that the current plant-count limit of 1,750 mature plants per cultivator isn’t enough to supply MMJ patients and will lead consumers to the illicit market or other states.

They want the figure to be more than tripled to 5,500 and suggest they might file legal action if their request isn’t met.

A spokesperson for the state health department told the Journal that regulators are reviewing the letter.

The letter was signed by Ultra Health, the state’s largest MMJ operator, Sacred Garden, Kure, Budding Hope and G&G Genetics, according to the newspaper.

Ultra Health has complained about plant-count limits for years and is engaged in ongoing legal battles in an effort to be able to grow more marijuana.

In November 2018, a court found the limit to be arbitrary and ordered the state to raise it.

The state did so in 2019, but Ultra Health contends market growth has offset that increase and that the ratio of plant per patient pales in comparison to neighboring states and leads to higher prices.