SANTA FE – A state Court of Appeals ruling that New Mexico medical marijuana producers can claim a tax deduction for prescription medication could affect prices for 80,000 or so enrolled patients statewide – and the state budget.
The ruling, which overturned a hearing officer’s decision, could carry a multimillion-dollar price tag for the state Taxation and Revenue Department, which had denied medical cannabis producers’ applications for gross receipts tax refunds for years.
“There’s a direct potential fiscal implication to the state,” said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, who added that lawmakers will have to set aside enough funding to cover the tax claims either this year or next year if the ruling is not appealed.
A tax department spokesman said Friday that the agency was reviewing the ruling and weighing legal options.
But the agency cited data from the Department of Health showing that medical cannabis providers paid roughly $24 million in gross receipts taxes during a recent nearly three-year period.
Those taxes are paid by providers but typically passed on to patients, who could see a drop in prices for medical cannabis products because of the court ruling.
Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health LLC, one of the state’s largest licensed medical cannabis producers, said tax claims could range from several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending on the producer.
“I think it’s good news, because we should never tax food or medicine,” Rodriguez said in an interview.
He said the ruling could also raise questions about medical cannabis costs being covered, either by private insurance companies or Medicaid.
It could also have other implications. Candelaria suggested the ruling could affect workplace policies on medical cannabis use.
In addition, the ruling could give inmates and parolees who are enrolled medical cannabis patients the right to use marijuana, just like other prescription medications, he said.
Source: Albuquerque Jnl