This is a how-to post for those wishing to become patients in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program. “How do I get enrolled in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program?” is the most frequently asked question I get from people considering cannabis for their ailment(s). Sometimes I forget how overwhelming it can be when you are a sick person, seeking help for your ailment, have tried many solutions that either didn’t work or had too many bad side effects from prescription drugs, and are contemplating a possible solution that your government deems illegal. I can help you wade through the process.
Getting your medical cannabis card in New Mexico is free. Whether you have already had some success with cannabis on your own, or you’ve read about it, or a friend or family member suggests cannabis for your ailment, the first step is the same for everyone. I feel I must emphasize that if you are a patient that can’t get to a dispensary, you can have a caregiver purchase for your cannabis medicine for you, but they must get a Caregiver Card from the NM-MCP. More info on that can be found in the NM-MCP link below.
Step One – You must check the list of qualifying conditions in New Mexico to see if your condition is on the list. (If it isn’t, don’t despair – go to the end of this post for info on how to petition the DOH to add your condition.) You will find a list here in this blog, or on the Department of Health MCP website, (links below). If your condition is on the list, print out the patient application and go to step two.
Cannagramma – 21 Qualifying Conditions
NM DOH MCP – Patient/Caregiver Forms (Qualifying conditions are listed on the patient application)
NM DOH MCP – Information for Healthcare Providers
NM DOH MCP – Program phone number 505-827-2321
Step Two – Carefully read over the application and the checklist, and then fill out all patient parts of the application, (EXCEPT your condition if you can qualify for more than one condition. That can be determined with your doctor). Note: If you also want to get a PPL, (Personal Production License to grow your own cannabis at home), you will need to pay $30 and utilize a second form found on the NMMCP website using the patient link above. Some low income people may not have to pay that fee.
Step Three – You will need to find a healthcare practitioner to fill out their part of the application. You may have heard there are special medical marijuana doctors for this, and there are, but you should always start with your own doctor first for many reasons.
First, it’s always best to be on the same page with your doctors. Always. Even if they won’t fill out the required paperwork for you, it is important for them to if know you are using cannabis. Also, if cannabis works well for you, your doctor needs to know, because you will probably want to change or drop some prescription drugs you are taking.
Second, it will be done at the cost of your office visit and if you have insurance you won’t have to pay more than your copay. Cannabis doctors are expensive.
Third, most healthcare professionals have no knowledge of cannabis unless they have sought it out themselves, so they need to know from their patients that cannabis really is medicine that works for many, many people. Heck, since the endocannabinoid system in our bodies was only discovered in the 1990s most doctors don’t know about that either, though they should.
BE PREPARED! Take any scientific studies and other information with you to your doctor. If they are reluctant, give them the number to the DOH Medical Cannabis Program. The DOH will definitely alleviate any fears the doctor may have about repercussion for qualifying patients to the program. Qualifying doctor information is not made public at all, and the DOH will tell them that. This is between YOU and your doctor. Also – if you have tried cannabis and it helps you, discuss this with your doctor. If you don’t want to take harmful pharmaceuticals, tell that to your doctor as well. This is important, not only for you, but also for patients who will most certainly come after you seeking the same help. Doctors can and have been persuaded. It happens all the time.
If you choose not to use your own practitioner to recommend you into the program, you can utilize a medical cannabis specialist. Any healthcare practitioner with prescription writing ability can recommend you for the program and fill out the doctor part of the application. This means that Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, and Psychologists licensed to write prescriptions, are all acceptable. If you are not using your own doctor, proceed to step four. Otherwise go to step five.
Step Four – Medical Cannabis Specialists are all over the state, but they can be expensive. You will need copies of your medical records that state your medical condition whether or not you utilize a practitioner new to you or a Medical Cannabis Specialist. If the provider you choose has to get the records for you, you will most likely have to pay extra for them to do it. If you are a member of a healthcare system that offers patients online access to their own records, as is the case with ABQ Health Partners and, I think, Presbyterian Healthcare, this step can be very quick and easy. You will have to investigate getting the records on your own. What is very important is that you have back up records that state your condition, and a copy of these records will need to be attached to your application to help prevent possible rejection from the program. Even if you go to a Medical Cannabis Specialist, an application submitted without these records has a higher chance of rejection. Why risk that?
Step Five – After you have your forms all filled out, with the doctor portion done by a qualified healthcare professional, it is up to you to make sure it gets to the DOH. Make copies for yourself and send in the originals, Be sure to use the check list that comes with the application, because many people delay their process by NOT completing all the requirements. Send the application packet to the address on the form by certified mail/return receipt requested. This is important and the only proof you will have if the forms are lost. They will not accept your copies unless you have proof the originals were received by them. And yes – forms to get lost and misplaced.
Your condition is not on the Qualifying Condition list – If you have a serious condition that cannabis has helped you with, or you have read information about cannabis helping people with your condition, you may appeal to the NM Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. This process only happens twice a year when the Advisory Board meets, and the official petition must be submitted at least 30 day prior to a meeting. Your petition should include any and all information you can find regarding how cannabis has helped people with your particular ailment, and the more real scientific studies you can find, the better. The NM Chapter of the DPA, (Drug Policy Alliance), can and will help you with your petition.
Good Luck! I hope you all get to be legal medical cannabis patients in the near future!