Medical Marijuana Bill Dies at Session's End

Medical Marijuana Bill Dies at Session's End
Posted by CN Staff on March 19, 2005 at 22:21:25 PT
By Karen Polly, Current-Argus Staff Writer
Source: Carlsbad Current-Argus 
Carlsbad -- Senators from Eddy County voted against a bill that would allow access to marijuana, but it passed the Senate on a 27-11 vote. After a week of being stalled on the House floor, though, their votes were twice moot.Senate bill 795 was on the House floor since Monday, but was skipped over each day. According to lobbyist Reena Szczepanski, the bill was the last item addressed Saturday before the House adjourned, but she said Speaker Ben Lujan said the bill was too controversial and would take up too much time.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t have the votes,” Szczepanski said Saturday afternoon. “It was that somehow, we were trapped in the middle of a game.”“It would have been nice if every one of these issues were black and white,” Sen. Vernon Asbill said of the bills presented to him in his freshman year in the state legislature. ”You hate to vote against those folks that really are getting some medical benefit out of this, but in reality, it still remains an illegal substance.”Asbill said that other drugs that are available to sick people are sometimes illegal for people to possess without a prescription, but he said there is a process for people to follow to obtain the drugs legally. It would be better if researchers could come up with the ingredients that make marijuana beneficial to some and put it in a pill form, he said.Sen. Carroll Leavell said he also voted against the bill.“My thinking on that is that it sends a bad message to our young people that certain use of narcotics is acceptable. I think there’s just too much use and abuse of narcotics on the street today,” Leavell said. He said that prescription drugs are also problematic, but are controlled by prescriptive use.“This is something we should look at, but I’m so concerned about the message that we’re sending to our youngsters,” Leavell said.He said that cancer and other illnesses can cause discomfort, but he believes drugs that are already legal will take care of problems as well or better than marijuana. But Leavell also noted that the bill picked up support from both sides of the aisle in the Senate, and was non-partisan, “as it should be.”Senate bill 795, named the Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act, provided for the production and dispensing of marijuana within the state of New Mexico for people suffering from debilitating conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and spinal cord injuries.If the bill would have passed, the Department of Health would have regulated and administered the program, appointing an advisory board of eight physicians to provide additional oversight. The department would have determined an intrastate, licensed producer of the marijuana, and allowed the provider to give the marijuana to the patient free of charge.Szczepanski, director for the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico in Santa Fe, had been lobbying for the bill during the legislative session. Szczepanski said Tuesday that New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico or the state Department of Agriculture would all be good candidates for producing the marijuana for the patients in a tightly controlled system.“What the Department of Health can do is charge a registration fee or charge a licensing fee for the producer,” Szczepanski said. “We don’t want people to come in and make money off of these sick people.”What makes the situation different from a normal pharmaceutical company attempting to sell a product to a patient in need, Szczepanski said, is that if there is any profit made, federal narcotics laws would be broken.“By creating a non-commercial system, we will be within federal law,” Szczepanski said. Although she said federal agents still consider that they have the right to arrest anyone in possession of marijuana, only 18 people have ever faced prosecution for possession of marijuana that they claimed was necessary for medical reasons. Most of those 18 people were in violation of the state laws as well, Szczepanski said.“There is no conflict with federal law the way we’ve crafted this bill. There really is no federal law issue with this bill,” Szczepanski said.She said 10 other states have similar laws allowing doctors to recommend, yet not prescribe, marijuana. The state would approve the recommendation and determine how much cannabis could be doled out to a patient, who could then take in the product through use of a vaporizer, by smoking it or by eating it.“We anticipate, based on the size of other states’ registries, it could be anywhere from 50 to 200 people,” Szczepanski said.Needs for the drug vary, Szczepanski said. Some of the patients have cancer or AIDS, and are too nauseous to eat when on treatment. Treatment with marijuana allows them to recover their appetite and survive their treatment.Other patients have muscle spasms, which marijuana prevents, Szczepanski said, noting that opiates commonly prescribed do not prevent the spasms.“It’s a quality of life issue for some patients. They’d rather not be doped up on opiates,” Szczepanski said. “For some people, this is the only thing that helps them, so we want this to be one of the options a doctor can offer for treatment.”A fiscal impact report on the bill states that there is no appropriation for administering the marijuana in the state’s budget, and states that a full-time administrator through the Department of Health for the project will cost about $150,000 annually.Szczepanski said the bill had faced little opposition from state legislators, which made the fact that it was on the House calendar all week surprising.“Really, there’s been very little opposition because of the nature of the bill. It’s a very controlled, highly regulated bill we’re trying to submit,” Szczepanski said Tuesday.But by Thursday, Szczepanski’s optimism seemed to have faded.“It has been skipped over two days in a row,” Szczepanski said. “There’s every indication that this bill is being held hostage.”Szczepanski said state Rep. Daniel Silva, an Albuquerque Democrat, was to blame for the hold-up.According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Silva held up the bill because he could not get a bill that would help his constituents to build homes more cheaply in southwest Albuquerque heard in the Senate.“I don’t want that bill heard,” Silva told the Santa Fe New Mexican regarding the medical marijuana bill. “My bill is a lot more important to my constituents.”Silva did not return calls to the Current-Argus on Friday. Vicky Plevin, mother of Max Plevin Gardner, who died three years ago at age 26 after a long fight with colon cancer, said it was “tragic” that New Mexico legislators would play games with a bill designed to help sick people. She said she had testified before the House Public Affairs Committee about her son’s battle with cancer.“I’m actually appalled at what’s going on up there in Santa Fe,” Plevin, of Albuquerque, said.Plevin said that after her son, who was near 6 feet in height, dropped to 83 pounds, she began taking doctor’s advice to get some marijuana for him.“Every time we took him to the doctor, they’d take me aside and say, ‘Can you get him some marijuana?’” Plevin said. “Marijuana was so helpful to him, not only to help him hold down his food, but to comfort him. I don’t think families with dying family members should have to go out and look for drug dealers. I would go out and do it again. If you had a child who was suffering like that, you would, too.”Plevin said the family had “closets full of narcotics,” listing Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin and morphine among the drugs prescribed to her son so that he could regain his appetite and comfort.“I hear, ‘What’s the message we’re sending to our children?’ Vicodin, Percocet, morphine? They’re 20 times more addictive. But they upset his stomach. He needed the marijuana,” Plevin said. “The thing about smoking marijuana was that my son could control when he had enough, when he wasn’t nauseated anymore.”After talking to legislators about what her son went through, Plevin said she believed that many of them understood that the issue was about medicine for sick people. But of the holdup in the House, she said, “I really think it’s tragic for them to play games with something like this.”Erin Armstrong, a 23-year-old cancer patient and UNM student from Santa Fe, said Friday she was diagnosed with cancer almost six years ago.“I’m currently not having to undergo treatment, because I’m stable. But I’m not under remission,” Armstrong said. “I have a lot to look forward to in the future. It is my hope that all medical treatment options would be available to me if and when I have to go through treatment again.”On Saturday, Szczepanski said those in support of medical marijuana are already regrouping, but she said she does not know if some of them will survive another year to lobby state legislators. “I think the House should be concerned about the devastating message that they sent to the people that need the most protection in our state, the people who are seriously fighting for their lives,” Szczepanski said. “But, we’re already making our plans for next year.” Source: Carlsbad Current-Argus (NM)Author: Karen Polly, Current-Argus Staff WriterPublished: March 20, 2005Copyright: 2005 Carlsbad Current-ArgusContact: editor currentargus.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links Agonizing Wait Over Legalizing Marijuana Marijuana Passes Senate Endorses Three Medical Marijuana Bills 
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on March 22, 2005 at 14:10:39 PT
NORML: Medical Marijuana Bill Dies in New Mexico 
Medical Marijuana Bill Dies in New Mexico Due To Politics Not Science Write a letter to the editor shaming the legislature for putting politics above patients!Take Action Now! Friends:We are writing today with disturbing news. Senate Bill 795, the Lynne Pierson Compassionate Use Act, died in the Legislature over the weekend when the session ended before it could be called for a vote on the House floor. (See article below.) This result was particularly disturbing because the bill enjoyed overwhelming support, including the endorsement of Governor Bill Richardson. It had already passed the Senate, as well as two House committees, and was anticipated to pass if called for a vote on the House floor.While we are extremely disappointed by this result, NORML would like to thank those of you who took the time to call and write members of the Legislature in support of medical marijuana. Without your help, SB 795 likely would never have made it as far as it did.NORML would also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff at the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance, who put in long hours lobbying the legislature and lining up votes for this bill. In particular, NORML would like to extend a thank you to Reena Szczepanski and Gabrielle Guzzardo from DPA. Without their help, Senate Bill 795 would likely not have been introduced, nor would it have enjoyed such strong legislative support.We are determined to have a medical marijuana bill reintroduced when the Legislature reconvenes in 2006, and we are optimistic that it will not suffer the same fate. In order to help keep medical marijuana in the minds of legislators, we are asking that you send a letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your outrage at the House's failure to approve Senate Bill 795. NORML has created pre-written letter that you can send by visiting: help support NORML's state legislative efforts, please donate today at: again, we would like to thank you for your support of medical marijuana. We hope we can rely on your continued support in the future.Regards,Kris Krane, Associate Director NORML
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Comment #21 posted by Hope on March 21, 2005 at 08:03:38 PT
I do remember you saying that. You were right. The only good thing that I can see from the New Mexico thing is that our side knocked a bigger hole in the wall this time. Next time maybe they will get through, but even if they don't, they will have weakened the wall even more.Prohibitionists are trying to fix the holes with lies and prevarications. Lies prove to be weak mortar in the long run. Mean time, people are suffering. I can only hope they get their medicine safely, in spite of the hateful, fearful, ignorant folk who would prevent their obtaining relief from the cannabis plant. There comes a time when defiance of ignorance is the only route...the high road...if you will.
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Comment #20 posted by dididadadidit on March 21, 2005 at 07:43:16 PT
Can't Resist, Told You So.
Previously posted when the senate passed 3 versions of MMJ."Comment #2 posted by dididadadidit on March 03, 2005 at 09:19:40 PT Don't Count on New MexicoThe numbers in the senate do indeed hold out some hope, but I've seen NM come close too many times in the past to hold my breath on a good outcome. It is still quite probable, in spite of high senate support, that it is the houses turn to torpedo the legislation this year, or barring an outright sinking, pass a dissimilar bill to anything out of the senate and then fail to get anything at all through house senate conference, as was the case when getting close with governor Johnson. "The third bill, sponsored by Sen. Shannon Robinson, D-Albuquerque, would allow people with chronic or debilitating diseases marked by pain or severe muscle spasms to use marijuana only topically — in a patch, lotion or gel, for example. " Of course, the house could go along with the most useless senate version, quoted above, and pass a bill essentially worthless. If one is nauseous or in muscle spasm, how long will rubbing lotion on the stomach or muscle take to effect any relief? Get real! Do people rub the cox-2 arthritis pain relief on their aching joints? No, they get the relief (along with the increased risk of heart attack and stroke) by ingesting the medication. Same with cannabis (minus the lethal side effects), and smoking or use of a vaporizer is the logical method of administration as it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and the dose needed for relief easily controlled (as opposed to eating cannabis (or Marinol) which takes time to digest and is difficult to control the desired dose). Sorry, don't count on NM. We've screwed it up before and likely will again."Indeed, it was the turn for the "house" to kill the legislation this year. It works the same way with these people when attempts are made to deal with a "real" drug problem, namely DWI. Drunks can drive the wrong way on the interstate and kill 4 people at a time in NM (done it more than once) and get 4 years maximum in the slam and the NM legislature is powerless to get tough on alcoholic murder.So sad.Cheers??
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on March 20, 2005 at 20:32:52 PT
Repealing National Prohibition
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on March 20, 2005 at 20:11:37 PT
Shepphard is actually the correct spelling, I think. Two Ps.
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on March 20, 2005 at 20:06:55 PT
Morris Shephard of Texas
His famous quote keeps coming to mind. I don't think I'm willing it myself. Maybe I'm nuts but M. Shephard's proud words keep coming unbidden to my mind. It is oddly comforting and encouraging."There is as much of a chance of repealing the eighteenth amendment as there is for a humming bird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail. This country is for temperance and prohibition and it is going to continue to elect members of Congress who believe in that."
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 19:09:18 PT
Heads Up: John Walters on Washington Journal
John Walters, National Drug Control Policy, DirectorMonday, March 21, 2005 - 9AM ET
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Comment #15 posted by potpal on March 20, 2005 at 16:47:24 PT
Let 'em know your out there...
Szczepanski said state Rep. Daniel Silva, an Albuquerque Democrat, was to blame for the hold-up.Regardless of where you live, let Silva hear from you. They know not where you reside, let them figure it out and wonder...
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 14:41:06 PT
charmed quark 
You're welcome. I haven't found an article to post on the front page but when I do I'll put the state first and try it that way. I set up the articles myself and use two forms so I can split the article and add the copyright info and links. An e-mail friend from Canada said it would help him too. I'll sure give it a try.
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Comment #13 posted by charmed quark on March 20, 2005 at 14:34:38 PT
FoM, thanks
I didn't realize it was set up this way. I thought maybe it would be a simple change. Thanks anyway.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 11:41:36 PT
Broken Spirits
As we see all these changes coming our way as far as laws go I think about free spirits and how they fit in these times. How can a government mold it's people unless our spirits are broken. I have seen broken spirits in horses and they do what ever they are told by the rider but they don't have a special personality anymore. War requires people to fall in line and do what is told. These are perilous times. Thanks for reading my rant.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 11:00:17 PT
charmed quark
I'm still trying to figure out if I can do something that helps. I'm not sure if it's ok to put the state in front of an article like this.***New Mexico -- Senators from Eddy County voted against a bill that would allow access to marijuana, but it passed the Senate on a 27-11 vote. After a week of being stalled on the House floor, though, their votes were twice moot.***I'll try it when I get more news to post if you think this will help.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 10:36:41 PT
charmed quark 
I can't change anything in the program because I don't know how to do it. I only can change my FTE web site because I know how to do that. I'm sorry and I wish I knew how to do things myself.
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Comment #9 posted by charmed quark on March 20, 2005 at 10:30:06 PT
FOM - yes that helps but ...
Could it be listed that way on the home page with the excerpts. Your site is a wonderful resource. It's a great way to track what is happening across the US. But a lot of the small papers have names that I don't associate with a particular state. And it's the state-by-state changes that are interesting right now.Thanks
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 10:03:30 PT
You asked How can people be so callous and cruel? This might be over simplified but all I can think to say it's a sign of the times.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 20, 2005 at 09:50:24 PT
Nobody said it would be easy.
When I saw this last night, I was sick with grief. Twice I deleted comments that came out of my sorrow and disappointment.How can people be so callous and cruel? This morning I learned of another travesty in the making. Excerpt from an e-mail: "Congress Considers Drug Testing Welfare RecipientsFYI. The bill to reauthorize the 1996 welfare reform legislation now contains a provision cutting federal welfare funding to states that don't drug test welfare recipients. No state currently drug tests welfare recipients."All of us, reformers, know that we are trying to do the right thing. We all understand the constantly emerging evils of prohibition. It looks impossible to overcome the monster of callousness and hatred we are fighting. All I know for sure is that you can't quit resisting an egregious wrong just because it's hard.We will keep on keeping on. In the face of failure and hardship, we will regroup. We will continue. This banner for fighting for right and justice cannot be put down. You may have noticed that. It's welded to our hands. We have no choice but to keep on keeping on. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 20, 2005 at 09:48:53 PT
charmed quark 
Doesn't this help? I put it towards the end of the article. It looks really bad if I try to put it at the top of the article. When it's the UK I add it since I don't do very many articles from the UK. Source: Carlsbad Current-Argus (NM)
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Comment #5 posted by charmed quark on March 20, 2005 at 08:23:58 PT
FOM - way to list the state?
FOM - is there an easy way to give the state where the article is originating from? Often, I have to carefully read the item to figure out which state it is.Thanks-CQ
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Comment #4 posted by siege on March 20, 2005 at 08:01:12 PT
They just following orders from druggies Bush, They're like druggies, but without drugs; they're drugged on their own apathy. 
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Comment #3 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 20, 2005 at 07:36:31 PT
When they don't have the guts
When they don't have the guts to help people and try to save face, they do the following: stalled on the House floor, skipped over each dayHere comes the excuse part:bill was too controversial and would take up too much time
(That's after they stalled it.)Here's where they attempt to have some humanity:”You hate to vote against those folks that really are getting some medical benefit out of this, but in reality, it still remains an illegal substance.”Here's where they ultimately kill it:I’m so concerned about the message that we’re sending to our youngstersThey should have had the guts to kill it to begin with.
I want to barf at all this pondering non-sense.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on March 20, 2005 at 06:59:16 PT
a thought on peace
Another thought on peace. Years ago when the hipsters were on the scene and were what was happening. The media and a lot of others ridiculed and misinterpreted their peace and love outlook. The love wasn’t just about “getting it on” or peace in the world. It was about the peace and love that was manifest on the spiritual plane that they had rediscovered. Ok, so they are history now. Now, we have RAP which glorifies ghetto life, violence, despair, turmoil, conspicuous consumption, “pimps and ho’s”, and not to mention bad language and bad grammar. So, ask yourself, which is better…brutality and violence or peace and love?
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on March 20, 2005 at 06:32:43 PT
Cannabis comfort
“Marijuana was so helpful to him, not only to help him hold down his food, but to comfort him.” I think the healing emotional comfort aspect of cannabis is the part that some legislators and a lot of others don’t, won’t or can’t understand. Paxil, Prozak, or similar drugs can calm you down, but they don’t lift your spirit when you are in bad health. Folk that use cannabis are well aware of its spiritual dimension that helps you understand and hopefully brings you some peace. I don’t keep up with all of the developments in the pharmaceutical industry, but do they have anything on the market that can give you peace of mind?
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