NM Department of Health Holding Public Hearing on Medical Marijuana Regulations Today

Press Release January 13, 2008
Media Contact

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

Santa Fe- Today, NM Department of Health is holding a public hearing to accept comments on the regulations that govern the medical marijuana program. Three sets of draft regulations have been released, each pertaining to a different part of the program, including production/distribution, medical advisory board, and the ID card and registration program.

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is unique among the twelve states because it calls for the state of New Mexico to regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana. “Legislators wanted patients to have access to this medicine if their medical provider believed it could help them. They wanted the medicine to be pure and consistent, and they wanted to allow patients a way to easily and safely obtain it. This legislation brought something that could be secretive out into the light,” said Reena Szczepanski, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico.

The regulations outline different types of entities that could apply for licenses to produce and distribute medical marijuana to registered patients. The rules describe the requirements for each of these entities, their facilities, and the types of paperwork that should be filed. “One of our major concerns is that the regulations are only as good as the implementation process. The Department of Health has done a wonderful job under the leadership of the Governor in implementing the first phase of the program,” said Szczepanski, “I hope they implement the production phase in the same careful manner, and examine the legal environment carefully. This phase of the program is an issue of states’ rights, and we must keep that in mind as we move forward.”

In 2006, a statewide poll found that 75% of New Mexicans support legal access to medical marijuana. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act passed the NM State Legislature in 2007, and allows qualified patients suffering from certain serious medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and spinal cord injuries to use marijuana for relief from their symptoms. There are currently 91 patients registered in the NM Medical Cannabis Program, which falls in line with the size of the program that advocates were predicting during the legislative process. In August of 2007, Governor Bill Richardson sent a letter to President George Bush asking him to end his heartless medical marijuana policy and to stop prosecuting patients in the 12 states that have enacted medical marijuana legislation.

WHAT: Medical Marijuana Public Hearing
WHERE: Harold Runnels Building, 1190 S. St. Francis Dr, Santa Fe, NM
WHEN: Monday, January 14, 9 AM

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