If you’ve got April 20th circled on your calendar, you’re not alone - the New Mexico Department of Health is right there with you. It was no coincidence that the DOH chose the cannabis holiday to punish NMTO-Ultra Health, which owns seven dispensaries throughout New Mexico, for an indiscretion made over six months ago.
According to the New Mexico Political Report, the medical marijuana company is being punished for bringing a young, non-flowering cannabis plant to last September’s New Mexico state fair, where it was displayed prominently at the pot shop’s booth before being removed by fair officials.
Bringing the plant out of the grow house and into the public is against New Mexico’s law, and for breaking the state’s medical marijuana code, the DOH is requiring the shop shut it’s doors from April 17th - 21st, forcing NMTO-Ultra Health to skip out on the busiest cannabis-purchasing day of the year - 4/20.
Determined to stay open on the holiday, NMTO-Ultra Health lawyered up and appealed the DOH ruling. Yesterday, lawyers from both sides met in court and argued their respective sides of the state fair fiasco.
Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe attorney - who also happens to be New Mexico’ Speaker of the House - is representing the company, and argued that the current punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
“It’s not like they need to shut down a restaurant because the kitchen is dirty,” Egolf said in court.
Arguments for the DOH, on the other hand, pushed the narrative that taking it easy on NMTO- Ultra Health would set a precedent that other cannabis businesses would take advantage of.
“It could also make other [medical cannabis] producers wonder, ‘Maybe we can get away with something,’” Kenny Vigil, New Mexico’s medical marijuana program manager, testified.
The New Mexico judge has yet to make a decision on the appeal, but is expected to by week’s end - cutting it as close as possible to the highly anticipated holiday.
We’ll keep you updated on whether or not NMTO-Ultra Health will be able to serve their patients this 4/20.