Interest in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program has continued to thrive, despite Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in early April.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the New Mexico Department of Health has processed almost 15,000 applications for medical cannabis patients since the Cannabis Regulation Act went into effect in June.

Medical program director Dominick Zurlo told lawmakers that the program had received several concerns about decreasing patient enrollment since the state legalized cannabis; however, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported the opposite. 

The news outlet reported that the state’s medical program has experienced nearly a 72% growth since 2019, gaining roughly 52,000 patients between September 2019 and September 2021. There are now almost 125,000 medical cannabis patients enrolled in the program, with patients residing in every county of the state.

Zurlo expressed that the growth in enrollment shows a need for medical cannabis, according to the news outlet. “This shows that the medical program is serving and continuing to improve access to other patients within New Mexico who can utilize the beneficial effects of cannabis on their qualifying conditions,” he said.

And Chris Kukulski, a New Mexico medical cannabis patient, told the news outlet that he is not surprised that enrollment has increased drastically, as he thinks the stigma of cannabis use is becoming less prevalent.

“I think the difference is people are becoming a little bit more comfortable with the idea of their neighbors and [other people] using it,” Kukulski told the news outlet. “The stigma isn’t there, and people aren’t afraid to come out of the dark corners anymore and go get their medical card and say that they’re a patient.”