SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A hearing officer has endorsed key provisions of a plan designed to shore up cannabis supplies to New Mexico’s medical marijuana program without flooding the expanding market, according to recommendations released on Friday.

State Health Department Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel now has the final say on whether to limit medical cannabis cultivation to 1,750 mature plants per producer. In recommendations released Friday, that production cap was endorsed by an official assigned to monitor public hearings in July.

Dozens of medical cannabis producers in the state are divided on whether the proposed plant limits will ensure adequate supplies to patients.

Suppliers including Ultra Health, the state’s largest medical cannabis distributor, favor a much higher per-producer cap of 5,000 mature plants and unlimited seedlings.

“The evidence to qualify that possibility does not support the massive increase to a plant count limit of 5,000,” hearing officer Craig Erickson wrote.

He sided with recommendations from the Department of Health, which said the 1,750-plant limit is expected to significantly exceed demand for the foreseeable future.

More than 76,000 patients are enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program to reduce harm and suffering for a long list of ailments and conditions including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and HIV.

As the program evolves, producers have warned that regulatory constraints on production may be pushing medical marijuana patients toward the illicit market or recreational dispensaries in neighboring Colorado.

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