ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a growing industry in the state. The medical cannabis program has been in place for years but recently the number of cannabis patients in New Mexico has surged.

This weekend, an expo is bringing together all aspects of the industry.

“New Mexico is really expanding,” Gina Lucero said.

Cannabis patients in the state have nearly doubled in the past year to more than 44,000 according to new June numbers from the New Mexico Department of Health. 

“I think people are becoming more and more aware of cannabis,” Lucero said. She is the president of Grow for Vets New Mexico, a new local chapter of a nationwide organization.

“We feel that veterans, of all people, they should get it for free, they shouldn’t have to pay for their card,” Lucero said.

She said that in states where recreational pot is legal, the organization provides free medical cannabis directly to veterans.

But, in New Mexico, Grow for Vets raises funds to cover the costs of cannabis cards.

“There are so many veterans out there that need help and we need to be able to provide for them,” Lucero explained.

This weekend, the group is paying for cards for 100 veterans and also providing free consultations.

Lucero says her organization is just one in a booming industry that is quickly adding new businesses.

“As they grow, they’re also looking to hire new people,” said Shanon Jaramillo, Cannabis NM Staffing.

That’s what this weekend’s expo is all about and where Cannabis NM Staffing comes in.

It is a new recruiting company, unique to the state that helps bring employers and qualified workers together.

“We’re looking to add some education and training aspects to the industry,” Jaramillo said.The Cannabiz Expo continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It is at the Albuquerque Crown Plaza Hotel on University.