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New Mexico Company Supports Medical Pot Patients With Workers’ Compensation Access

Bennabis Health has announced the availability of its medical cannabis program to New Mexico residents. The company has partnered with AltaVida Dispensary, located in Albuquerque, to help aid medical cannabis patients, specifically with workers’ compensation cases involving a patient seeking to use cannabis as medicine for chronic pain.

“This is a tremendously exciting step in the growth of Bennabis Health as a visionary company clearing a path for those who can benefit most from medical cannabis where coverage is not otherwise available,” said Bennabis Health president Don Parisi. “Opening our network in New Mexico with AltaVida helps us progress in our mission to achieve medical cannabis benefits across the country.”

New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation states that medical cannabis can be used by an injured worker “when deemed ‘reasonable and necessary care’ under the Workers’ Compensation Act.” However, patients have to pay out of pocket and are later reimbursed.

“In certain states like New Mexico and New Jersey, workers’ compensation claims cases can require medical marijuana costs be reimbursed by the carrier when it offers reasonable and necessary treatment as an appropriate alternative to opioids,” a Bennabis Health press release states. “However, in these cases the injured worker would have to pay out-of-pocket a substantial amount per month for their medical marijuana, and then seek reimbursement from their payor.”

Bennabis Health offers what they call a “layer of protection between the dispensary and the payor” through its membership program and a team of health insurance and cannabis industry professionals. One of its founders, Anne M. Davis, originally discovered cannabis as a treatment for her multiple sclerosis but her health insurance didn’t cover her switch to medical cannabis because it’s a federally illegal substance and Schedule I drug.

The company had partnered earlier this year with a New Jersey dispensary, in March. This partnership was to offer the same benefits as before its expansion to New Mexico.

New Mexico began adult use sales in April 2022. But the state has its medical cannabis program in effect since 2010. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, technically, was its first cannabis-related legislation. The state’s law has been subject to some revisions since then. For example, the 2018 supply shortages were addressed by raising the cultivation limit from 450 up to 2,500. 2019 saw the expansion of patient rights and new qualifications for medical cannabis.

Recently, New Mexico Cannabis Control Division released sales data for November. It shows an overall decrease in marijuana sales, but a steady rise in adult-use cannabis sales. The total medical cannabis sales in November were $14 million. This is $660,000 more than October’s. In April 2022, when adult-use cannabis was legalized in the United States, medical marijuana sales stood at $17million.

Since Dec. 5, digital cards for medical cannabis have been issued by the state.

The University of New Mexico announced on Dec. 6 that Nathan Jackson is the principal investigator in a project to improve safety when vaping cannabis. “Every vaping tool functions by heating the liquid to greater than 200 degrees Celsius, which creates toxic byproducts, which then enter the aerosol droplets that are inhaled,” Jackson said. “Our technology uses a different mechanism to create the aerosol that does not require heating, so it could potentially eliminate the harmful byproducts.” The project is called “Droplet and Metal Particle Analysis of ENDS,” which received a pilot award from the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Our technology uses a silicon substrate, where no metal is in contact with the liquid and it uses less heat, so potentially we can reduce the health risks associated with vaping,” Jackson explained. “Also, our technology can generate micro-scale droplets instead of the nano-scale droplets found in current vaping tools, so that means that droplets are less likely to enter the blood stream and cluster together, which could also result in safer aerosols.”