Several medical marijuana companies in New Mexico have made a joint contribution to the cannabis research center at the University of New Mexico.
Medical marijuana dispensaries and several cannabis product manufacturers have donated $2,000 to fund medical cannabis research at the University of New Mexico.
The cannabis research fund, started by the physician running the UNM program, is meant to help fund more studies into cannabis’s potential for cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the opioid crisis.
One New Mexico dispensary, owned by Susan Billy, had customers participate in a raffle to win baskets of cannabis products in order to raise its portion of the contribution.
“It’s so important and there’s so many things that this can do and it can help so many people on so many levels, you know not just health wise but economically so we need all the research,” said Billy.
The program’s leader and UNM associate psychology professor, Dr. Jacob Vigil, told TV station KRQE that he established the fund because cannabis’s legal status at the federal level makes it difficult for the program to raise money. Because cannabis is a Schedule I substance under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, researchers interested in investigating its potential therapeutic properties face legal obstacles that make the collection of data difficult.
“I actually set up this fund as an opportunity so that my fellow community members could donate and sponsor the type of research that they feel is most important to the community members, their families and so forth and that is exactly what took place here,” said Vigil.
Last winter, Vigil and his colleagues from UNM found evidence that legal access to medical marijuana could play a role in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. The study found that opioid intake either significantly dropped or ceased completely in a significant portion of chronic pain patients who were enrolled in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program (MCP).
Vigil said that the newly donated funds would help the program double the number of participants they can admit into their study on PTSD.
Medical Marijuana in New Mexico
New Mexico is one of 29 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana. Medical marijuana has been legal to buy, possess, and consume for patients with a licensed doctor’s recommendation since voters approved the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act in 2007.
Under the state’s law, patients can legally purchase up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis over a 90-day period.
New Mexico’s MCP approves medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with chronic pain and 21 other conditions. As of April, more than 52,000 people were enrolled in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis program. The most common qualifying conditions for patients in New Mexico include PTSD, severe chronic pain, and cancer.
Recent calculations by Business First using New Mexico Department of Health first quarter sales data show New Mexico’s medical marijuana industry to be at an all-time high, with sales totals up nearly 40 percent year-over-year. The number of patient transactions has increased by 66 percent year-over-year, from 341,372 transactions to 566,354.