Updated: Friday, 23 Apr 2010, 4:35 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009, 10:48 PM MST
CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - A mix-up that permitted a Carlsbad man to grow nearly 100 pot plants in his backyard now has health officials changing how they issue licenses under the state's medical-marijuana program.
“They had made a mistake and sent me the wrong license,” Randy Mazur told KRQE News 13.
Mazur, who legally uses marijuana to treat pain, had been issued the program’s nonprofit producer license. That license allows a grower to raise up to 95 mature pot plants to distribute among other patients registered with the program.
Earlier this year Mazur had between 40 and 50 plants growing behind his house.
Someone grew suspicious and called police. Eventually members of the local drug task force showed up to investigate.
Mazur told News 13 he was cleared after showing officers his nonprofit producer license. That wasn't the end of it, however, as the attention sparked by the police presence led to other problems.
“People started hopping my fence and ripping (the plants) off right and left,” Mazur said.
Mazur then voluntarily surrendered the plants to the drug task force and contacted the New Mexico Department of Health.
That’s when he learned he had the wrong marijuana license.
“It’s unfortunate that we had this one mistake,” DOH spokesperson Deborah Busemeyer said. “We’re confident we can continue to keep this program strong for our patients.”
It turned out Mazur was supposed to receive only a state personal-production license, which limits a patient to just four mature plants strictly for their own use.
According to state health officials it was a simple mistake based on the two different licenses looking so much alike. The only real difference was a sentence clarifying how many pot plants were allowed.
Whoever issued Mazur the wrong license printed his name on the wrong certificate.
“That’s when we took a closer look at our cards and made sure that we changed them so it can’t happen again,” Busemeyer said.
The two licenses now have very different looks with new layouts that make it very clear which is which.
“We do recognize that it was a clerical error,” Busemeyer said. “It was unfortunate, and we’re making sure that it won’t happen again.”
The state law that allows medical marijuana use passed in 2007.
According to DOH figures the number of registered patients has more than tripled over the last several months to more than 800 people.
There are still just a handful of licenses issued to nonprofit producers. Mazur, who founded the nonprofit group “Veggies, Inc.,” would like to be one of them.
“I can out-produce anybody in the state, hands down,” Mazur said. “That’s what I do. I grow.
"God gave me the gift.”
His application is still pending with the health department.
In the meantime he’s growing on a much smaller scale under his personal-production license.