Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798
Patients and advocates from around New Mexico met with Governor Bill Richardson today, asking the Governor to issue an executive message that will allow legal access to medical marijuana to be considered during the legislative session. The session begins on Tuesday.
During the 2005 session, similar legislation enjoyed overwhelming, bipartisan support from the legislature, but failed to receive a House floor vote that would have finalized its passage. Governor Richardson recognized the need for such legislation several times during the session, including this statement, “For people who are living in tremendous pain as a result of life threatening diseases, this is a treatment that they should be allowed to have.” The Interim Legislative Courts, Corrections, and Justice Committee also endorsed the bill in November and have included the bill in their request to the Governor.
“The Governor was very sympathetic to the need to protect sick and dying people who benefit from this medicine. We know he has many important priorities for the upcoming session that will improve the health and safety of New Mexicans, and we just hope that this will be one of them,” said Reena Szczepanski, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico (DPA-NM).
“It is critical that our government sends the message to young and old, ill and healthy, that as a society our priority is to be compassionate to our most vulnerable,” said Erin Armstrong, a patient advocate and Policy Assistant for DPA-NM.
Essie Debonet, who suffers from chronic nausea due to AIDS medications, said, “I can’t really wait another year to have legal access to medical marijuana. I don’t know how much longer I can deal with the side effects before I give up. I don’t know if I’ll be alive in another year. This is truly a life or death issue for me. My life or my death.”
Local and national HIV/AIDS organizations have signed on to a letter asking for Governor Richardson’s support. The letter states in part, “We also know that you have achieved significant gains for people living with HIV/AIDS in New Mexico, and we applaud those achievements – Please do not stop being an advocate for the rights of patients, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS.”