Medical Marijuana Measure Clears Senate Again

Medical Marijuana Measure Clears Senate Again
Posted by CN Staff on February 08, 2007 at 06:45:56 PT
Staff and Wire Reports
Source: New Mexican
New Mexico -- A proposal to allow certain patients to legally use marijuana under a state-run program passed the Senate on Wednesday and headed to the House.The proposal has the support of Gov. Bill Richardson, who has urged lawmakers to pass some measure before the annual legislative session ends March 17. Richardson says he supports a bill "that includes proper safeguards to prevent abuse."
Senate Bill 238 creates a program run by the Department of Health in which patients with cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other conditions, or in hospice care, could participate. They would need certification from their physicians.Supporters say the drug combats nausea and relieves other symptoms of cancer and other debilitating diseases."Sometimes there's nothing else in life that would let you eat a bite of food," said Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales, who voted for it.The measure passed the Senate 34-7. The Senate has endorsed it the past two years, but it has failed to clear the House each time.Supporters estimate that between 50 and 200 New Mexicans could qualify for the program.Patients, who would be issued identification cards, would be protected from prosecution by state authorities for possessing or using the drug.But opponents argued that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, subjecting patients who use it to possible prosecution."Why aren't you going to Congress and asking them to change it. ... This is blatantly pre-empted by federal law," objected Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque.Several New Mexico doctors interviewed Wednesday by The New Mexican noted that the need for medical marijuana isn't as great as it once was."There is a need, (but) it's not anything like the need it was when wasting disease was part of the AIDS epidemic," said Dr. Trevor Hawkins, a Santa Fe doctor specializing in AIDS. Hawkins said he supports the bill because medical marijuana would fill an important niche, even though it would not have widespread applications. He said it could be useful for AIDS patients who develop a multidrug resistance or are diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in a late stage and suffer from wasting and nausea.Two oncologists said the argument for marijuana to treat nausea in cancer patients is passť because cancer treatments now have fewer side effects, and the pharmaceutical industry has produced a wide array of products that address nausea more effectively than marijuana."Medical marijuana is just old stuff," said Dr. David Snyder, a medical oncologist in Santa Fe. "We don't have the problems with tolerance that we had 15 years ago."Snyder and Dr. Barbara McAneny, a medical oncologist based in Albuquerque, have given patients a synthetic version of THC, which is the key ingredient in marijuana."When the push to legalize marijuana first started, we only had a few anti-nausea drugs," McAneny said. "But now we have so many really, really good drugs -- with hardly anything for side effects -- that control nausea so well that I probably wouldn't use it very often if it were legal."Also, because marijuana use is illegal under federal law, it makes doctors and others vulnerable to federal prosecution."I would prefer not to go to federal prison," McAneny said. SB238 Medical Marijuana Use: Source: New Mexican, The (Santa Fe, NM)Published: February 8, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Santa Fe New MexicanContact: webeditor Website:  Related Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Alliance  Senate OKs Medical Marijuana Bill Marijuana Bill Heads To Senate
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 08, 2007 at 08:01:27 PT
Related Articles from New Mexico
Bill Allows Limited Use of Medical Marijuana for Certain Diseases***Medical Marijuana Bill Gets The Nod Again
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 08, 2007 at 06:51:35 PT
Related Article from The New Mexican
Roundhouse Roundup: Governor Slow To Show Support for Medical Marijuana  ***  
By Steve Terrell, The New Mexican February 8, 2007 Did Gov. Bill Richardson avoid a potential flip-flop?Last year, the governor expressed strong support for a bill that would allow people with certain serious medical conditions to use marijuana to treat their symptoms. Better than that, Richardson actually put medical marijuana on his call, which was necessary for it to be considered during a 30-day budget session.Last week, when the Senate Public Affairs Committee heard the medical marijuana bill (Senate Bill 238), there was no word from the governor on how he stood. As reported in this paper, "during the hearing, Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham and Human Services Secretary Pamela Hyde sat in silence. Last year, in the same hearing, they endorsed it."A Health Department spokesman said afterward, "We neither support nor oppose the bill" because his agency isn't carrying it -- even though the bill calls upon the Health Department to establish procedures and license medial marijuana growers. 
New Mexican reporter Diana Del Mauro tried unsuccessfully to get a comment from a Governor's Office spokesman.On Monday, when the bill went to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also tried to get a comment from the Governor's Office to no avail.Could it be that Richardson's presidential candidacy was making him think twice about medical marijuana? As it eventually turned out, no.The next day, spokesman Gilbert Gallegos e-mailed me saying, "The Governor continues to support a medical marijuana bill with property safeguards, and he will work to get it passed."Then on Wednesday, the Governor's Office sent out a news release quoting Richardson saying, "I will work with legislators to get it passed this session to provide this option for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases."This quickly was followed by e-mails from advocates."We are grateful that the governor continues to support the bill and has pledged to work with the Legislature to ensure its passage," wrote Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. "Gov. Richardson recognizes that this is a medical issue and that the strength of this bill lies in its safeguards to prevent potential abuse."So why the delay of several days?"It just took me awhile to double-check, since this was not part of our legislative agenda," Gallegos said Wednesday.The Senate passed the bill 34-7 on Wednesday night. Complete Article:
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