Bill Improving New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program Passes Senate Floor

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Yesterday Senate Bill 406 passed the Senate Floor (33-2). The measure, sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo) seeks to and expand access to medical cannabis in New Mexico. Currently many medical cannabis patients still face discrimination and lack access to their medicine.

Statement from Senator Ortiz y Pino:

“This bill is the result of a process that began last year with a statewide task force that examined our medical cannabis program. We heard that New Mexicans who rely on medical cannabis, often find that it is either inaccessible or unaffordable. This is especially true for patients living in rural areas and on tribal lands. This bill makes changes to establish protections for patients and will lead to improved access to safe and affordable medical cannabis for all New Mexicans who need it.”

Statement from Jessica Gelay, Policy Manager, Drug Policy Alliance:

“The medical cannabis program is well established in New Mexico, but patients still encounter discrimination in daily life It is important that we pass this bill to improve the program and update the law so that medical cannabis patients are not stigmatized for lawfully using their medicine. This bill goes a long way toward ensuring that patients’ basic needs – like access to schooling, medical care, employment – are not jeopardized because cannabis is their medicine.”

Elements of SB 406:

  • Establishes civil protections for patients for schooling, child-custody, and related to medical care, including receiving an organ transplant. Protects patients who are parents from state intervention solely because of Medical Cannabis Program participation.
  • Establishes employment protections for patients and prevents employers from taking adverse actions against patients for their lawful use of medical cannabis.
  • Creates a multi-year registry ID card that is good for three years.
  • Allows the Department of Health (DOH) to license onsite consumption of medical cannabis as long as the area is accessible only to patients and caregivers, is not publicly visible.
  • Updates medical qualifying conditions listed in statute to include the 15 conditions approved by the DOH since 2007.
  • Improves access for MCP patients living on NM Indian tribe, pueblo, or nation land by allowing the DOH to license personal production at alternative addresses.

There are nearly 70,000 patients in the New Mexico medical cannabis program whose quality of life is improved with access to medical cannabis, often when nothing else works.

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (LECUA) has not been updated since it was passed in 2007. A similar bill was vetoed by Susana Martinez in 2017.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance press release from March 8, 2019

Johnny Green
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Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor's degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant