New Mexico Moves Ahead With Medical Marijuana Law

New Mexico Moves Ahead With Medical Marijuana Law
Posted by CN Staff on February 09, 2009 at 18:31:38 PT
By Tim Korte, The Associated Press
Source: National Law Journal
New Mexico -- Eighteen months after New Mexico enacted a first-of-its-kind medical marijuana law, the state is moving gingerly ahead, mindful that the closely watched program could go up in smoke because it conflicts with federal law. New Mexico's statute, which took effect in July 2007, differs from 12 other states that have approved medical marijuana legislation in one major way -- state health officials will oversee a production and distribution system.
To borrow the street metaphor, the state needs a dealer. Of course, that puts New Mexico's health department sideways with federal drug laws that make it illegal for anyone to possess, grow or distribute marijuana. It's also illegal under federal law to solicit someone for those purposes. The new administration of President Barack Obama isn't likely to change anything -- not immediately anyway. "This is a matter of the law and the law hasn't changed," said Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the National Office for Drug Control Policy. "It's still illegal to grow, possess and distribute marijuana." He said he couldn't discuss specifics of the New Mexico plan. Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, said New Mexico is being closely monitored because it is apparent that state officials have put a lot of thought into the program. "Theoretically, what New Mexico is trying to do makes a great deal of sense," he said. "We'll see how it plays out. But it certainly makes sense for patients to have someplace they can go that is reliable and safe to get their medicine." Greg Fouratt, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, described the conflict as "a difficult situation" but said the law is unambiguous. "The state can't legalize something and then prevent federal authorities from prosecuting the same thing, if they choose to do so," he said. And what if the new Obama administration decides to change federal law? "I can't imagine that would be a priority, but we'll do what we're told," Fouratt said. Since the statute took effect, 207 patients have been licensed, able to possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana. Officials are only now beginning to implement the production and distribution side of the program. State Health Department spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer said New Mexico has moved carefully, especially in developing tight requirements for any business that hopes to grow or distribute marijuana on behalf of the state. So far, health officials have received just one application. Identities of participants -- patients, producers and distributors -- are protected by the state's confidentiality rules. However, Busemeyer said all applicants are rigorously screened and, because of safety concerns for patients and producers, there is a long list of regulations. For example, only nonprofit businesses can grow the drug. "It is important to have people who, as a business, have expertise with herbs or medicine to ensure they are able to grow medical cannabis in a way that ensures both quantity and quality," Busemeyer said. While licensed patients, growers and distributors are protected against state prosecution under the law, she said all applicants are warned there is no protection against potential federal action. Asked about the federal conflict, Busemeyer said state health officials are merely following marching orders they were given by New Mexico lawmakers. "We tried to create a program that does what it intended to do," she said. Patients can be licensed in New Mexico if a doctor certifies they are chronically suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS and certain spinal cord injuries. Hospice patients are also eligible. After a recent petition hearing in Albuquerque, an advisory committee recommended adding eight more conditions for the list, including Lou Gehrig's disease, fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder. The federal issue has been evident during development of the law. In August 2007, one month after the statute took effect, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King warned that the Health Department and its employees could face federal prosecution for implementing the act. Gov. Bill Richardson told the agency to move ahead with the program but the state later pulled back from direct involvement in production and distribution, choosing to have the nonprofits perform that work instead. "A lot of states have been uneasy about trying to organize distribution of medical marijuana because of a fear of the feds," Mirken said. "If the feds would get out of the way, it would be much easier." Rather than flouting legal differences with federal law, Busemeyer said state health officials are emphasizing the strict controls they're building into the system, along with what they believe are significant benefits to patients. "We wish federal law was as progressive as our law, which recognizes there are people with debilitating conditions," she said. "They can't get relief anyplace else but medical cannabis." Fouratt called it "an unenviable position" to prosecute any patient who carries a doctor's prescription to treat an illness. "But that's a judgment made by Congress," he said. "Until Congress changes the law, it is the responsibility of the executive branch to enforce it. Now, what a jury would do? That's something that is down the road." Copyright: 2009 Associated PressSource: National Law Journal (US)Author: Tim Korte, The Associated PressPublished: February 10, 2009Copyright: 2009 NLP IP CompanyContact: mailbox nlj.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NM Medical Marijuana Program Finalizes Rules for Medical Marijuana Finalizes Medical Marijuana Rules
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on February 16, 2009 at 14:55:27 PT
NM Adds 7 Conditions to Medical Marijuana Coverage
February 16, 2009 SANTA FE (AP) - The state Department of Health is adding seven conditions to coverage under the state's medical marijuana program.Patients can apply if they have painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea or vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection if that's also receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil said Monday the conditions were added based on recommendations of the department's Medical Advisory Board and scientific findings that the conditions could be helped by medical cannabis.The board recommended adding eight conditions, but Vigil turned down fibromyalgia, saying there wasn't enough evidence that medical marijuana is effective for it.Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on February 10, 2009 at 15:11:34 PT
I'm glad you are doing ok. My husband hasn't had any work since the end of October. We are hanging on but not by much. Other owner operators have lost their trucks. Ours is old and paid off so it can sit luckily. We sure blew it and now the party is over. I don't mean us but our government. The tough will get thru it but many people just won't. 
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Comment #12 posted by JustGetnBy on February 10, 2009 at 15:05:32 PT
 Peace & LoveThings are fine with us, although we share the anxiety of the present political circumstance, we are doing just fine. 
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Comment #11 posted by josephlacerenza on February 10, 2009 at 10:39:49 PT
New Mexico vs USA
I have been waiting to see how the DEA/feds are going to go about prosecuting the devil weed in New Mexico. The law there is so fundamentally different, I think if tried in court it would set new standards. One other comment/question, how many states need to pass medical marijuana laws before the feds have to take notice, 25, 40 or all 50? Already over 1/4 of all Americans live in a MMJ state. 
Lets free the weed!!!!!
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on February 10, 2009 at 09:08:21 PT
 How are you doing? I hope very well.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 10, 2009 at 08:46:10 PT
Since New Mexico is trying to work this out maybe we will see a change in Federal Law. Barney Frank comes to mind. If marijuana was re-scheduled it would help so much. That's my focus and hope.
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on February 10, 2009 at 08:45:54 PT
Greeting to you and yours. My wife sends you her love.
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Comment #7 posted by JustGetnBy on February 10, 2009 at 08:39:47 PT:
Feds Vs. New Mexico
  If the Feds are foolish enough to enforce Federal prohibition laws against New Mexico they will be opening Pandoras Box.I hope they are arrogant enough to try.  The people of New Mexico passed this law with a solid
majority, and these are the same people that will fill the jury seats when the Feds attempt to nullify this newley 
passed state law.  This could trigger the start of justice restored in the
U S if a jury nullification is the result of such an attempt.  We can only hope.                Peace and Love 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 10, 2009 at 06:38:19 PT
I agree with you. I look at how a handful that are left of Republicans fight like they are still the majority about the stimulus package and yet they jumped on board (TARP) to give money to the fat cats without any concern. That really shows me they do not care about the people just money. They showed this Mark Fiore cartoon on the news yesterday. Check it out.
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Comment #5 posted by runruff on February 10, 2009 at 06:20:34 PT
It's crazy that it just goes on and on.
Hope,It is my theory that industry and anti-organizations make billions each and every day off of this nasty little ruse.I see them playing this thing out to the bitter end and profiting every step of the way. These people are base of mind and greedy of heart.[quite the opposite of you dear!] 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 10, 2009 at 06:10:21 PT
We all know that we need the laws to be changed but I know people who do not want marijuana legalized. We need to get over 41% in favor before we will move in that direction. When you live in rural America it's easy to see why we have trouble.
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Comment #3 posted by 420ned on February 09, 2009 at 22:04:18 PT:
I hate that Obama recognizes the fact that some people do need marijuana medically and yet he says it's not a priority for im to try to change the federal law. Why not, considering the money we could save and the benefits it would give those people who do have prescriptions? I say he needs to make it a priority.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on February 09, 2009 at 20:46:26 PT
The prohibition of cannabis
has been an alarming exercise in insanity and the insanity won't cease until the idiotic prohibition ends.It's crazy that it just goes on and on. It's really difficult to understand why absolutely everyone in the world doesn't realize it. 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 09, 2009 at 19:53:50 PT
New Mexico
Maybe they will be able to work this out. I hope so.
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