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P787: Medical Cannabis Program (FY17-FY19 Strategic Plan)

P787: Percent of complete medical cannabis client applications approved or denied within 30 calendar days of receipt

Current Value


FY 2017


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Story Behind the Curve

  • New Mexico is one of 29 states with a Medical Cannabis Program (MCP). The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (the Act) became law in 2007. It allows New Mexicans with debilitating conditions to use medical cannabis.
  • Timely review and approval of applications is important to make sure patients have safe access to medicine.
  • Patient enrollment increased substantially, from about 26,000 patients at the start of FY17 to more than 44,000 at the end of the year. Each week, the Program is approving about 1,000 applications and printing and mailing about 1,000 patient registry identification (ID) cards. During FY17, the Program processed 90.5% of completed applications within 30 calendar days of receipt. The average processing time for completed applications in FY17 was 23 days.
  • While the MCP did not meet its target of approving 98.5% of completed applications within 30 calendar days, tremendous process improvements to streamline the approval of applications have been made, including developing and implementing standard operating procedures and providing training to all employees who process applications.
  • The MCP will continue developing process improvements and training staff on standard operating procedures in order to meet the target for this performance measure. The Program anticipates meeting its target in FY18. 


  • Patients and their families; caregivers
  • Advocates
  • Licensed non-profit producers (LNPP)
  • Licensed couriers, manufacturers, and laboratories
  • Legislature
  • Medical and Nursing Boards
  • Medical practitioner associations
  • New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and private IT networking and expertise
  • State and local law enforcement
  • BioTrackTHC

What Works

  • Assisting patient-applicants, so they submit complete applications.
  • Streamlining the approval process for applications.
  • Hiring additional employees as applications increase.
  • Establishing a process for applications to be submitted electronically (by computer).
  • Educating the community, including medical providers and members of the public, to increase knowledge of the program and improve the completeness of applications.


  • Streamline the application approval process:
    • Each information and records clerk will handle an application from beginning to end, including printing the patient registry ID card on the same day it is approved.
    • Identify ways to make renewals a more fluid process.

Action Plan

  • Q1: Review current application process and identify strategies to expedite review and approval of applications. Begin the hiring process for five employees in Patient Services. Completed.
  • Q2: Hire and train five new staff. Completed.
  • Q3: Identify a strategy for electronic submission of applications. In progress. Hire and train one new staff. Completed.
  • Q4: Identify a strategy for electronic records storage. In progress.

FY17 Annual Progress Summary

  • While the Program did not meet its target goal of approving or denying 98.5% of completed medical cannabis applications in 30 days, the Program made tremendous process improvements and sustained its improvement in the last three quarters of FY17. 
  • The Program implemented operational changes, created an operating manual, and trained staff on administrative approval of applications.
  • On average, completed patient applications were approved or denied within 23 days in FY17. The Program anticipates meeting its target in FY18.

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