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New Mexico officials to review recommendations on possible changes to medical marijuana rules

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SANTA FE, New Mexico — State officials have received and plan to review a hearing officer's recommendations on possible changes in rules for New Mexico's medical marijuana program.

The hearing officer's recommendations submitted Thursday include dropping a proposed a requirement that patients submit fingerprints or other biometric information, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://goo.gl/MiAzQe).

Another recommendation would increase the allowable concentration of the active ingredient in marijuana produced for patients.

Attorney Susan Hapka wrote those recommendations and others after reviewing numerous written comments and holding two hearings on possible changes to the Health Department's proposed rules.

Hapka asked the Department of Health to clarify its intent in imposing several rules that had been opposed by people who spoke at the December hearing, according to documents submitted as part of her report.

She wants officials to examine a rule limiting the supply of marijuana a patient can have, a rule prohibiting more than two patients with personal production licenses from living in the same location and a rule requiring patients to renew their cards annually.

However, Hapka did not recommend changes to those rules.

Department spokesman Kenny Vigil said the department received Hapka's report and will review it before making any final decisions.

"There is no set time frame for finalizing the rules," Vigil said in an email.

Patients, producers and would-be producers for the program have been closely following the rule-change process, in part because the Health Department has said it would not begin issuing licenses to new producers until after the new rules are in place.

No new producers have been licensed since 2010, and the department's own study has shown that the 23 producers who are currently licensed are only able to meet about 20 percent of patient demand for legally grown marijuana.

About 11,200 patients — each with one or more of 16 qualifying conditions — are enrolled in the Medical Cannabis Program.

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