Judge: New Mexico cannabis rules not supported by evidence | Local News

New Mexico’s largest medical cannabis producer is getting to be a real buzzkill for the state Department of Health. 

New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health — which has won several legal battles with the agency that runs the state’s medical cannabis program — was handed another victory recently when a state district judge ruled directives the department created last summer weren’t supported by evidence. 

District Judge Bryan Biedscheid issued an order Friday repealing the regulations and ordering the department to rewrite them. 

Biedscheid wrote in his order he hoped his findings and conclusions would provide guidance to the Health Department, which would prevent the issue from being sent back to the court. 

A Department of Health spokesman wrote in an email the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but noted, “We are aware of the decision and are reviewing options.”

Ultra Health Chief Executive Officer and President Duke Rodriguez has sued the Department of Health multiple times — contesting sanctions, gross receipts tax applicability to medical cannabis and the definition of adequate supply.

In this instance, Rodriguez had filed a complaint last July — about a month after the department published new rules for the program — claiming the department had provided “no rational connection between the facts found and the choices made, and its rule-making process.” 

Biedscheid agreed, writing in his order the Department of Health did not appear to have consulted with the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board before making the rules — as required by statute — and that certain rules, including those regarding testing requirements for medical cannabis, “were not supported by substantial evidence.”

In a news release distributed by his company, Rodriguez lauded the ruling. 

“Organizationally, we support testing and reasonable regulation, including enhanced testing for pesticides and heavy metals,” he said in the release. “However, regulations must absolutely be promulgated rationally and consistently as compared to industry standards in other cannabis markets.” 

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