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County medical marijuana sales on the rise

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Chaves County has more than 1,330 people with cards for medical marijuana, and the two dispensaries with outlets here, including Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals, recorded 7,011 patient transactions in Chaves, Lincoln, and Eddy counties during the third quarter of 2017. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The medical marijuana industry with Chaves County operations is now a multimillion-dollar enterprise and the number of active patients has more than doubled in a year, but the area remains a small part of the state business sector, according to third-quarter 2017 data from the state.

The New Mexico Department of Health has regulated the industry since medical use of marijuana was legalized in 2007 and regularly provides information about licensed distributors, growers and manufacturers.

The average number of Chaves County residents with medical cards for cannabis each month in 2017 now totals about 1,334, according to an October report from the state.

The state average is 44,080. That makes Chaves County sixth among the state’s 33 counties. Bernalillo County has the most patients, 15,490.

In June 2016, active medical card holders in Chaves County was tallied at 571.

“Once you get your medical card, you can actually go to any dispensary you want in the state,” said Clinton Greathouse, chief executive officer of Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals in a 2016 interview.

Roswell-based Pecos Valley is one of two dispensaries in the county. Ruidoso-based Compassionate Distributors is the other. Both have operations in other counties as well.

“That’s part of the benefit of getting your card, you’re able to basically shop around,” Greathouse said. “Of us being one of the ones here in Roswell and this whole Chaves County area, it’s beneficial for us, for our patients, because a lot of people can’t drive up to Albuquerque.”

Sales for Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals and Compassionate Distributors grew to $1.6 million for the third-quarter 2017. Sales totals do not include other revenues, such as delivery fees, earned by the licensed nonprofit producers, as the state refers to dispensers.

The 2017 numbers compare to sales of $825,740 for the two operations for the third quarter of 2016, prior to the official opening of Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals.

For the entire year of 2016, sales for the dispensaries totaled $2.4 million. So far this year, sales have grown to $3.3 million.

Statewide, sales at 67 dispensaries were $22.1 million for July through September 2017, with 110,072 patient transactions. That compared to $13.6 million in sales and 79,279 patient purchases for the same period in 2016.

So far this year, sales statewide total $62.2 million, which is well above sales for the entire year in 2016 when they were $49.8 million.

The state now authorizes the use of medical marijuana for 20 health conditions, with physicians able to seek authorization to prescribe it for other medical concerns.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.