LAS CRUCES, N.M. - You may be surprised to hear there are marijuana stores scattered throughout New Mexico. Each one is regulated by the state to sell medical marijuana to licensed patients.
When you think of Ruidoso, many people think of a small town tucked away in the forest. Others think of it as the source of medical relief at Compassionate Distributors.
"I've seen over and over with my own eyes, the people that have been helped by this program. I'm convinced it's legitimate," said Mandy Denson, one of the owners of Compassionate Distributors.
Out of a small Western-looking building, a Ruidoso couple is helping hundreds of patients with all kinds of medical conditions.
Denson and her husband run Compassionate Distributors, a non-profit medical marijuana store licensed by the state department of health.
"Patients who have a card to be able to have medicinal cannabis can come in, register with us and we make a copy of their ID," Denson said.
Denson said the process to open the store was long and thorough. She must submit quarterly reports to the state and each year the store is audited.
For medical marijuana patients, going to Compassionate Distributors is just like going to a pharmacy. The store offers a wide variety of strains and products to treat different conditions, much like you would see different medicines on the shelves of a drugstore.
In addition to the different strains of plant to smoke, the store offers edible products including chocolate bars, lollipops and cookies all infused with THC and cannabinoids.
"I was on 11 different pharmaceuticals, taking 17 different pills every day. I've gone from 11 to 3 that I need and it's because I started smoking medical marijuana," said Jeffrey Quinnell, a medical marijuana patient who's been going to the store for more than a year.
Quinnell suffers from a condition where his nerves are causing pain and his doctors can't figure out why.
The store in Ruidoso is one of just a handful in southern New Mexico. Most are concentrated in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. There are 23 in total.
Denson said they also offer delivery services to patients in Roswell.
Quinnell said having a place that is regulated and safe to get medical marijuana is a huge relief.
"It's totally improved the quality of my life. I'm no longer a zombie. I was like a zombie before and now I can live my life and get things done," he told ABC-7.
Medical marijuana stores in the state are allowed to grow 150 plants. Denson said she hopes the state will allow them to increase that number so they can serve their patients better.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has said in the past she does not approve of the state law that legalizes medical marijuana, but she has said publicly she would not try to repeal it.