Final Vote on Medical Marijuana; House of Representatives to Vote on Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act, SB 795

Press Release March 13, 2005
Media Contact

Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798

Santa Fe – The House of Representatives will vote on the Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act, SB 795, either late tonight or Tuesday, March 15th. On Saturday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with a vote of 8-1. With little opposition, the Governor could sign the medical marijuana bill by the end of the week. A 2002 poll found that 81% of New Mexican voters support legal access to medical marijuana.

“Momentum has been building on this issue for years,” said Senator Cisco McSorley, the sponsor of SB 795. “The most vulnerable residents of New Mexico, those that are sick and dying, are one step closer to being treated as patients, not as criminals.”

The Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act (SB 795) is narrowly tailored to provide for the production and dispensing of cannabis within the state of New Mexico only. The bill provides protection from criminal liability for the use of cannabis under the regulation of the Department of Health for people suffering from certain debilitating conditions. Under this bill, people suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries and epilepsy can apply to receive medical marijuana from the Department of Health once their doctor has recommended they use it.

The Department of Health will regulate and administer the program, as well as appoint an advisory board of eight physicians to provide additional oversight. The cannabis for the patients comes from an intrastate, licensed producer who is determined by the Department of Health to be qualified to produce, distribute, and dispense cannabis. Qualified patients and primary caregivers are excluded from the definition of “licensed producers.” The Department of Health could charge an annual licensing or registration free, and the cannabis would be provided to the patients free of charge.

“Legislators have been moved by the testimony of patients who desperately need legal access to this medicine,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “Many have had personal experiences with seriously ill loved ones who have faced pain and suffering. I am confident that the House will vote for compassion.”

For more information, or to set up interviews with medical marijuana patients and Senator Cisco McSorley, call Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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