And The Loss Of Freedom For The State’s Medical Cannabis Program
The Medical Cannabis Program in New Mexico has continued to be a topic of many headlines across the state and now nationally, along with our state’s budget crisis, for several months now. The participants in the medical cannabis saw a turbulent past year in 2016 as it grew over 75%. News on profits from the producers in the medical cannabis program and most recently talk of how social use cannabis legalization can provide much needed funds to an underfunded state budget has been abundant.
The latest platform for the legalization of cannabis has now been introduced for New Mexico in 2017. The legislation called the, Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, House Bill 89 was filed and is to be introduced by Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces). During the state’s legislature special session in late-September 2016, a legalization bill was prepared as HB-11 (also the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act) and is very different from the latest version by Bill McCamley. Party politics kept it from being introduced and read in the legislature.
Legalization Is About Freedom And Good Health, Not Greed.
The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, in short will end the current medical cannabis program, restart up another medical cannabis program with greatly reduced patient rights. The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act put that financial interest over the current medical value regarded in the state since 1978. This legislation would establish what is called a Cannabis Control Board that is administratively attached to the Regulation and Licensing Department. The duties of this Cannabis Control Board, that will be made up of 11 members, is to regulate and provide oversight of the medical cannabis program and the social use of marijuana established in the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act. The legislation does keep the Department of Health and Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in limited roles.
The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act allows for the following :
- the possession of usable marijuana by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older, if the total of usable marijuana does not exceed: two ounces at the person’s household; or one ounce outside the person’s household
- the possession of up to seven grams of marijuana extract by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older
- the production, processing, keeping or storing of homegrown marijuana at a household by one or more persons who are twenty-one years of age or older, if the total of homegrown marijuana at the household does not exceed at any given time: six marijuana plants per person; provided, however that no more than twelve marijuana plants may be present in one household; six immature marijuana plants; and eight ounces of usable marijuana;
- the making, processing, keeping or storing of homemade marijuana products at a household by one or more persons who are twenty-one years of age or older, if the total
of homemade marijuana products at the household does not exceed at any given time: sixteen ounces in solid form; or seventy-two ounces in liquid form;
- the delivery for noncommercial purposes by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older to another person who is twenty-one years of age or older of not more than one ounce of homegrown marijuana at any given time;
- the delivery for noncommercial purposes by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older to another person who is twenty-one years of age or older of: not more than sixteen ounces, at any given time, of homemade marijuana products in solid form; or not more than seventy-two ounces, at any given time, of homemade marijuana products in liquid form.
- regulate industrial hemp production and possession and regulate commerce in industrial hemp commodities and products in this state
- plant count increase structured : 1000 plants by July 1st 2017 then 2000 by July 1st 2018
- local Gov’t Authority ( county / city municipality can decide on licenses for both )
- taxes: 15% with possible 5% more Municipality tax and another possible 5% county tax
- allows for medical patients with growers licenses to sell excess cannabis to producer ( you won’t have the excess issue under this bill )
- beginning July 1, 2017, accept applications for licenses to produce, process and sell
marijuana items within the state from licensed producers pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act;
- beginning October 1, 2017, in accordance with the provisions of the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, issue licenses to qualified applicants who are already licensed producers pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
- beginning July 1, 2019, the department shall: accept applications for licenses to produce, process and sell marijuana items within the state
What Happened To Medical Cannabis In Oregon and Washington Could Now Happen In New Mexico
Look what happened in Washington state on July 1st 2016 when patients lost safe access to medical cannabis- that new approach to their program was funded by George Soros and his influence on DPA as revealed by the Seattle Times on September 22, 2012. Patients in New Mexico in the current medical cannabis program will see a loss of the current program and significant reduction in current grow rights. The Cannabis Revenue And Freedom Act calls for the Cannabis Control Board, by January 1, 2018, to establish a medical cannabis subsidy program through which the department of health shall make distributions of a portion of cannabis tax revenue to qualified patients in the medical cannabis program and promulgate rules to govern the program. Then by January 1, 2019, and in accordance with the State Rules Act, promulgate rules related to the medical cannabis program, including rules that re-establish the program from scratch. The current program has some challenges but it does not need to be scrapped entirely and redone by different people who know even less about medical cannabis…
The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for medical use. Caution should be taken by policy makers against letting the debate surrounding legalization of cannabis for profits and social use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis. Recreational use and medical use have only the criminal justice system in common.
Is there a difference between recreational and medical cannabis?
Technically there is no difference. A cannabis plant’s effectiveness as medicine or recreation is determined solely by the user. In today’s era of how legalization and commerce of cannabis has spread, the distinction matters. Much of the basic science on cannabis has lead many industry professionals to realize all use of cannabis is medical. If the person is or isn’t treating a diagnosed condition with cannabis, their choice to use it in place of a more toxic medication or other recreational drug is a proven healthful choice. A basic drug, like aspirin, are even more dangerous than cannabis. According to the CDC, aspirin can cause gastrointestinal complications and even death if too much is ingested. On that same note, a individual of good health who chooses to smoke a joint rather than a beer is also making a positive health decision. To put that into context, according to the New Mexico Department of Health, and average of FOUR New Mexicans DIE everyday due to alcohol related causes. Cannabis still claims zero lives annually and remains one of the most non-toxic substances safely used in New Mexico since 1978.
As more states legalize adult use or “recreational” cannabis, state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs have come under attack and now we see the same in New Mexico. In an attempt to sell legalization to anti-cannabis voters, legalization advocates have emphasized these financial rewards over harm reduction or freedom the current medical cannabis program has provided. Good old-fashioned American capitalism driving legalization should come as no surprise in today’s world, although the arguments for freedom and liberty should be more powerful drivers for American voters on both sides of the aisle in the Round House at New Mexico’s Capital.
In Oregon, Washington and Colorado state legislators have been quite concerned about who still can have access to or had lower-priced tax-free medical cannabis. This has led to a “decoupling” of patients from their caregivers and many patients being told they no longer qualify as medical for the program and now we see it here in New Mexico.
Why? Because the argument for American greed is winning over the argument for American liberty. As we move towards a federal solution, we should emphasize the conservative and liberal held views that freedom means autonomy over one’s body and the medications they choose to use to treat whatever it is that ails them. It is un-American to allow the state to determine the best medical care for patients, rather than the doctors and patients themselves.
What’s missing? The voice of the medical cannabis patients.
It’s time to view this as what it is – the state governments, not doctors, determining the best route of medical care for patients. The current medical cannabis program under the LECUA is about allowing doctors, providers, and patients the right to determine what works best for them, even if it is a safe non-toxic substance that happens to be federally illegal thanks to 80 years of lies and propaganda.
Often times a legislative or regulatory agency that has the best interests does not have experience with medical cannabis, and falls prey to imposing needless restrictions or bureaucratic hurdles that inhibit the patients in their constituency in benefiting from their physician-recommended therapy. In fact, well-meaning rules can actually cause physicians to base their decisions on politics rather than medical evidence. Other times, certain impositions on the businesses that provide medical cannabis to patients may have unintended consequences On the other hand, inexperienced legislators and regulators may not be aware of best practices on training staff, medical cannabis business management, and lab testing.
As all use of cannabis has true therapeutic aspects and the state can benefit from it regulated without excessive taxes and killing the current medical cannabis program. We need to define a model for cannabis legalization, that protects and improves the state’s medical cannabis program and by showing how social use cannabis legalization can be done without regulating completely like alcohol. The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act does not do that and is harmful to the current medical cannabis program in New Mexico.