State Regulations on Limiting Use: A Jeff Spicoli Adventure

State Information

Over here at Cannaceutics, we have noticed an uptick in patients being unaware that the state of New Mexico tracks the amount of medicine patients buy, and also limits the amount patients can buy. Currently when a patient receives their first cannabis card, they are allotted 230 “units” or grams of medicine within a rolling 90-day period.

The state limit had been in place since the program began, but wasn’t enforced by the state until June 2016, which is why a lot of patients were taken by surprise when they either ran out of available units or were told by a dispensary employee that they were nearing their limit. Because the state didn’t notify patients before they started tracking units, many patients haven’t been given the information they need to ensure they never run out of medicine.

The rolling 90-day period seems to be the sticking point with most patients. It’s not 230 units during a single block of 90 days, starting when you get your card; instead, when you buy a gram it is subtracted from your allotment and 90 days later it’s credited back to your account.

Here’s an example – and because I’m one of those weirdos who likes paper books and vinyl records, I found it really helpful to have a wall calendar handy so I could track the dates on paper. Those of you who are not 800 years old might like to have your phone calendar open.

Jeff Spicoli (not his real name) receives his new cannabis card on June 1st. Everybody got their calendar? Great. Jeff comes down to Cannaceutics, signs up as a new patient and decides to try one gram of Purple Widow. Because Jeff has his full 230 units to use, after his purchase, he’s down to 229 available units.

Yep, it’s a word problem! So far so good.

Jeff has “used up” one gram of his allotment. In 90 days, on August 29, that gram will be added back into Jeff’s allotment. If Jeff were to only buy that one gram within that 90-day period, on August 29, he would be back up to the maximum 230 units.

Further down the math rabbit hole…

Jeff’s account now stands at 229 available units on June 2. Let’s keep it simple and have Jeff decide he likes the Purple Widow and wants to buy one more gram. After that purchase, Jeff has 228 units left. Since he’s buying that gram on June 2, the rolling 90-day period rule says that on August 30, he will receive that gram back in his allotment. As it stands now, Jeff will receive one unit credited back to his account on August 29 and one more on August 30.

If things were simple and money grew on trees, Jeff could try to buy 230 units in one day (that may or may not be possible since most dispensaries have daily limits on purchases). If Jeff bought 230 units in one day, he would have to wait the full 90 days to make any more purchases at all.

If I wanted to be diabolical I could get into the fact that your purchases are timed to the second and so are your credits. I’d explain that if you buy 230 units on June 1 at 3:14:48 pm, 230 units will be restored to your account on August 30 at exactly 3:14:48 pm. I’d explain that the time of day is key to when your units are restored; if your balance was at zero and you tried to purchase before 3:14:48 pm, you would have no units available and couldn’t buy your medicine. If you tried to purchase after 3:14:48 pm, you would be able to make a purchase.

In the spring, we had some patients tell us that making a large purchase to celebrate 4/20 came back to haunt them. If someone makes purchases totaling 50 grams on 4/20, they will not receive that 50 grams back until 90 days later – on July 18. That’s a fair amount of medicine to have unavailable to you at one time, especially for patients who have a high tolerance. The safest way to play so that you never run out of medicine is making multiple small purchases more often, rather than stocking up in one trip if you don’t need to.

Unfortunately, the state of New Mexico has not offered a way for patients to look up their available units online. You can call us at Cannaceutics and we can look up your available units for you, or you can find out from our desk staff when you visit. We also make an effort to let our patients know when their balance falls below 100 units, just to keep you informed.

Believe it or not, there are even finer points about the 230-gram limit that bear mentioning. I’ll address those in a new post soon.