Decision Pending on Adding Opioid Use Disorder for Medical Marijuana in New Mexico

Press Release April 6, 2017
Media Contact

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<p>Jessica Gelay (505) 573-4422<br />
Tommy McDonald (510) 679-2311</p>

Santa Fe, NM – On Friday, April 7, New Mexico could become the first state in the nation to specifically list opioid use disorder as medical condition that qualifies for access to the state medical marijuana program. There are two paths to victory, through NM state law or through an administrative decision made; both would be effective immediately:

Path 1 – The NM Governor signs HB 527 into law; or
Path 2 – The NM Department of Health announces the Secretary of Health’s approval of the petition brought by Anita Briscoe, submitted in Fall 2016

The deadline for both decisions is today, Friday, April 7. Governor Martinez has until 12 noon, Mountain Time, to sign bills on their desk from the 2017 Legislative Session or they will not become law. Meanwhile, this morning the Department of Health will announce the Secretary of Health’s decision on petitions from the Fall ’16 meeting at a public meeting of the NM Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is gathering with patients, clinicians, researchers and legislators for the Spring meeting of the Advisory Board to hear Secretary Lynn Gallagher’s decision on the petition to add opioid use disorder to the list of conditions for which New Mexicans can qualify for medical marijuana. The group will include people with direct experience quitting opioids with the help of medical marijuana, clinicians who have seen clients successfully employ medical marijuana in their treatment and UNM researcher who recently announced study findings showing a significant 31% reduction in opioid use when pain patients had access  medical marijuana through the state program.

DPA staff and Dr. Jacob Vigil, UNM Dept. of Psychology whose research is mentioned above. State Representative Debbie Armstrong, Chairperson of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee who submitted a statement urging the Dept. support adding opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition, and  Mr. Sean Gabaldon, a Stage 4 cancer survivor who was able to detox and end his dependence on opioids with the support of cannabis and his medical practitioners. These individuals will be available for interviews following the announcement of the Secretary’s decision. Call Jessica Gelay at 505-573-4422 to schedule an interview.

WHERE:        Harold Runnels Building 1190 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505

WHEN:           April 7, 2017 11:00AM MST – 12:00PM MST

Nationally, in 2015, more people died from opioid overdoses than died from HIV/AIDS when that epidemic peaked in the 1990s. Nationally, more than 33,000 people died from overdosing on opioids in 2015.  For more than two decades, New Mexico has suffered from a disproportionate rate of opioid overdoses compared to nearly every other state in the nation. It is the leading cause of accidental death in New Mexico, far outpacing runners’ up, gun deaths and traffic fatalities.

Opioid misuse is killing dozens of people every day and marijuana can be a useful treatment tool. When someone is detoxing from opioids symptoms like nausea and pain can make eating, resting and relaxing very difficult. Medical marijuana can help with those symptoms, and can help dampen cravings to use opioids.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

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