Medical hashish sufferers sue for insurance coverage protection

The New Mexico Division of Well being reported 135,388 sufferers have been enrolled within the medical hashish program as of Could, of whom 55 % are searching for remedy for post-traumatic stress dysfunction as their main qualifying situation.

A brand new class-action lawsuit argues these sufferers are eligible to have their hashish lined by their medical health insurance, together with Medicaid.

In Could alone, medical hashish gross sales in New Mexico topped $17.4 million, holding regular from $17.3 million in April, the primary month that non-medical hashish gross sales opened to adults.

A bunch of medical hashish sufferers, together with a state legislator, joined the state’s largest medical hashish producer and retailer in submitting a grievance in New Mexico’s 2nd Judicial District, searching for damages and a declaration by the courtroom that medical hashish is a behavioral well being service that have to be absolutely lined by insurers with out copays, deductibles or coinsurance.

Among the many plaintiffs is state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, an unbiased state legislator from Albuquerque, who’s a medical hashish affected person and an lawyer who has been concerned in hashish litigation beforehand. Candelaria introduced final yr that he will not search reelection to the physique.

Austin De La O, assistant manager at Everest Cannabis Co. in Las Cruces, N.M., shows off one of the different strains the dispensary offers on April 1, 2022.

Austin De La O, assistant supervisor at Everest Hashish Co. in Las Cruces, N.M., reveals off one of many totally different strains the dispensary gives on April 1, 2022.

Many of the plaintiffs record PTSD as their main qualifying situation below the state’s medical hashish program, with some stating they produce other circumstances as effectively. One plaintiff is the daddy of a pediatric affected person permitted to take hashish for remedy of nonverbal autism and epilepsy.

PTSD has been a medically permitted situation qualifying sufferers for New Mexico’s medical hashish program since 2009. As of Could, 74,006 sufferers listed it as their main situation.

Extremely Well being, a producer of medical and non-medical hashish merchandise with dispensaries all through New Mexico, is the only producer among the many plaintiffs. The corporate’s CEO and president, Duke Rodriguez, acknowledged in a information launch: “The thought of medical health insurance plans paying for medical hashish might look like an not possible dream, however all of the foundational components have already fallen into place.”

The grievance rests its declare on a New Mexico statute enacted in 2021 that barred insurance coverage firms from imposing cost-sharing for habits well being companies lined by particular person or group well being plans. The invoice, styled because the No Behavioral Well being Price Sharing Act, was sponsored by Democratic state Sens. Martin Hickey of Albuquerque and Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces.

New Mexico state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, I-Albuquerque, is among the plaintiffs in a new class-action lawsuit calling for 100% insurance coverage of medical cannabis for patients with behavioral health conditions.

New Mexico state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, I-Albuquerque, is among the many plaintiffs in a brand new class-action lawsuit calling for 100% insurance coverage protection of medical hashish for sufferers with behavioral well being circumstances.

The grievance additionally factors to state appeals courtroom rulings holding medical hashish exempt from taxation like different prescription drugs.

The plaintiffs declare that by refusing to cowl medical hashish for his or her members, insurance coverage firms have been violating state regulation, breaching contracts with enrollees and unjustly enriching themselves, amongst different claims. In addition to a declaratory judgment they’re searching for punitive damages, restoration of cash sufferers paid for medical hashish since Jan. 1, and courtroom prices and attorneys’ charges.

Insurers named as defendants within the swimsuit embrace Blue Cross/Blue Defend of New Mexico, True Well being New Mexico, Cigna Well being and Life Insurance coverage Co., Molina Healthcare of New Mexico, Presbyterian Insurance coverage Co. and Presbyterian Well being Plan in addition to Western Sky Neighborhood Care, Inc.

Algernon D’Ammassa may be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

This text initially appeared on Las Cruces Solar-Information: New Mexico medical hashish sufferers sue for full insurance coverage protection