In Rare Bi-partisan Move, State Legislators Back Fund to Support New Mexico Medical Marijuana Program

Press Release February 2, 2012
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>

(Santa Fe) – Midway through the 2012 Legislative Session, a bill aimed at protecting thousands of sick New Mexicans’ legal right to the most appropriate medication to relieve their symptoms and suffering has been introduced by Senator Cisco McSorley (D) and signed on by Senator Rod Adair (R), Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D), and Senator John Ryan (R).  Senate Bill 240 creates a Medical Marijuana Fund sustained by the producer and patient production licensing fees currently being collected by the Department of Health.  The Department of Health will be able to use these funds to directly administer the program.

“This bill is an unusual partnership among conservatives and liberals for the advancement of policy efforts in New Mexico,” said Emily Kaltenbach, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. “Many of the best ideas defy political labels.”

B240 is one of those ideas.  Since the funding will come from existing fees, there is no added burden to the taxpayers and the additional resources will greatly strengthen the state's ability to fulfill its oversight and legal duties under the existing law (Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act) while continuing to provide safe access to safe medicine to patients who are suffering from serious illnesses.

Yesterday, SB240 unanimously passed the Senate Conservation Committee and will be heard next in the Senate Finance Committee.

Out of the 16 states with medical marijuana laws, New Mexico was one of few states in which a majority of Republican legislators voted for the passage of the legislation. New Mexico passed its medical marijuana bill in early 2007 with overwhelming bi-partisan legislative support, including a Senate vote of 32 – 3.

Today, New Mexico’s vital Medical Marijuana Program is serving over 5,000 patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, spinal cord injury, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and epilepsy.

A New Mexico Drug Policy Reform study found 79% of New Mexico voters support making medical marijuana available to seriously or terminally ill patients in order to reduce their pain and suffering.

Senate Bill 240’s bi-partisan sponsorship comes on the heels of a forum co-hosted by the Rio Grande Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance in late 2011.  Last October, more than a dozen New Mexico legislators from both sides of the aisle joined about 70 others to explore their shared values and principles on a more rational public safety and health response to drug policy reform.

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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