Medical Marijuana Bill Begins Journey through the House on Saturday, Feb. 24

Press Release February 22, 2007
Media Contact

Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Julie Roberts at (505) 983- 3277

Santa Fe–SB 238, The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, will be heard before the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee on Saturday, February 24. The bill would allow qualified patients suffering from serious illness such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy use medical marijuana.

SB 238 recently passed the Senate by a 34-7 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-District 12, has 14 co-sponsors, including Senate Minority Leader, Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. Recently, Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement supporting SB 238. Richardson urged the Legislature to pass the bill during this year’s session.

A statewide poll of New Mexico voters, commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, found that 75 percent of New Mexicans support making marijuana available to seriously ill or terminal patients to ease pain and suffering from the symptoms of their illnesses. The poll also found that not only do voters strongly support allowing the use of medical marijuana, respondents said they will be more likely to vote for a candidate who favors it.

“We look forward to a fair hearing Saturday,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “The bill was strongly supported in the Senate and enjoys strong public opinion among New Mexico voters. “New Mexicans see this as a vital issue that deserves an up or down vote from the House of Representatives. New Mexico’s sick and dying cannot wait any longer.”

A similar measure enjoyed tremendous bipartisan support last year and sailed through the Senate by a 34-6 margin. Gov. Bill Richardson voiced strong support for the measure during last year’s legislative session. The bill died after passing in the House Judiciary Committee in the early hours of the morning of the final legislative day.

“Now is the time to get this done so our most vulnerable New Mexicans will have protection under state law,” Szczepanski said. “This is the humane thing to do.”

Legal access to medical cannabis has been endorsed by numerous local and national organizations, including the New Mexico Nurses Association, the New Mexico Public Health Association, the New Mexico HIV Prevention Community Planning and Action Group, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Nurses Association.

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

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