Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office has filed a motion in First Judicial District Court to intervene in a lawsuit by out-of-state residents who say they should be allowed to participate in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program.
Matthew Garcia, chief general counsel to the governor, says in the motion that the petition raised policy issues that are beyond the purview of Kenny Vigil, who manages the Medical Cannabis Program for the state Department of Health.
Vigil “lacks authority to address law enforcement concerns, approve regulatory action, or direct healthcare policy for our State,” the motion reads. As a result, the “interests at issue cannot be fully addressed by the current parties to this litigation and could be substantially affected or impaired.”
Two Texas residents and one Arizona resident have argued in the case that New Mexico law allows for nonresidents to participate in the Medical Cannabis Program. They filed their petition after the Department of Health denied their applications for identification cards.
Last week, District Judge Bryan Biedscheid of Santa Fe gave the Department of Health two weeks to respond to the petition and show why it believes the state should not issue identification cards to out-of-state residents, according to the court order.
The motion from the Governor’s Office also requests a one-week extension for that response, which would move the deadline to Aug. 26.
The policy issues the state is concerned with include the transportation of marijuana across state lines and the “delicate balance” between providing heath care for residents and acknowledging marijuana use is a federal crime, the motion says.
Should the request to intervene be granted, the state would be allowed to become a party in the action between the petitioners and the Department of Health, according to the motion.
The state said it has “a significant interest in this litigation that cannot be fully protected by Mr. Vigil,” the motion says.
One of the plaintiffs in the case is Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of licensed New Mexico medical marijuana producer Ultra Health LLC. He is an Arizona resident who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, court documents say.
The Department of Health said last week it intended to respond to the court order and reiterated that its rules do not allow for participation by out-of-state residents.