New Mexico has issued its first medical marijuana cards to people living outside the state after retailer Ultra Health secured victory in a court battle.

The New Mexico Department of Public Health previously insisted that only residents of the state could enrol in its medical marijuana program. Ultra Health had already been marketing its products to people in neighbouring Texas, where medical marijuana is outlawed, and it decided to mount a legal challenge.

It proved to be successful when District Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled last month that the Department of Health must begin issuing medical marijuana cards to all qualifying patients, regardless of where they live. The state said it intends to appeal, but Ultra Health claimed it will be difficult to overturn the court order.

The firm’s chief executive lives in Arizona and he has successfully secured a medical marijuana card from the New Mexico Department of Public Health. Ultra Health reported that two people in Texas have also received cards to purchase medical marijuana in New Mexico, and that could open the floodgates for people in Texas.

Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, so there is less of a need for its residents to cross over the border to secure cannabis. Recreational marijuana remains outlawed in Arizona, although a 16-page draft measure called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act is bidding to change that.

The proposal was filed in early August and the Legislative Council reviewed it last week before raising a number of recommendations. The backers of the bill are now making tweaks to it before re-filing it.

The state’s medical marijuana dispensaries have funded the compilation of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, and it aims to allow adults to purchase up to an ounce for recreational use. They want recreational sales to be restricted to their existing dispensaries, while they are proposing a sales tax of 16%, which would go towards regulation, community colleges, and public safety.

New Mexico is also exploring the possibility of legalizing recreational cannabis use and a bipartisan taskforce has held public meetings on the feasibility of ushering in a regulated industry. The group recently met with state regulators from Colorado later this month to learn how the industry is flourishing there.

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