Gov. Susana Martinez announced a directive that will make the names medical cannabis dispensaries and their employees a matter of public record in New Mexico. This overturns the confidentiality provision in the Medical Cannabis Program’s regulatory guidelines, which then-governor Bill Richardson approved in 2007. The publishing of names will not apply to the state’s 15,625 medical marijuana patients.
In the past, the New Mexico Health Department defended the provision as a necessity for the safety of medical cannabis patients and producers. In 2013, a spokesperson for the department stated that releasing producer information could also reveal production locations, which is a security issue during product transport.
Chris Sanchez, the governor’s spokesperson stated,
“The governor has taken a close look at this issue over the past several weeks, and she does not believe this information should be confidential any longer.”
Some dispensaries already openly advertise with public websites, and the state’s Department of Health provides approved patients with a list of licensed cannabis enterprises. The directive comes on the heels of a new lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and journalist Peter St. Cyr. They argue the confidentiality provision violated the state’s open records ordinances.
Hoping for increased transparency, Gov. Martinez will have New Mexico’s Health Department formally change its confidentiality provision. In the directive’s announcement, it was unclear how long it would take to amend the department’s regulations for medical cannabis. Regardless, medical marijuana dispensaries have some chance to prepare their businesses before the directive is fully enacted. Most likely, these businesses will increase security at growing facilities and during transport.