Easy Panel Passage Gives Hope for Supporters 

Easy Panel Passage Gives Hope for Supporters 
Posted by CN Staff on February 02, 2007 at 07:02:29 PT
By Diana Del Mauro, The New Mexican
Source: New Mexican
New Mexico -- Yet again, a medical marijuana bill has sailed through a Senate committee, creating a sense of hope for those who want New Mexico to become the 12th state to allow patients to use the mind-altering herb for the relief of pain and nausea under doctor supervision.An estimated 50 to 200 patients, with conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS, would benefit, proponents said.
On Thursday, supporters were outwardly elated after the unanimous vote in the Senate Public Affairs Committee, but more cautious in private. For the past two years, a nearly identical bill found favor in the Senate, then stalled in the House. Last year the initiative even won Gov. Bill Richardson's public backing, but ultimately died in the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.No one is sure where the governor stands now that he has his eye on the White House. His spokesmen did not return calls for comment.The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act would give authority over the supply and distribution of marijuana to the Health Department. Yet 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.Chris Minnick, a spokesman for the Health Department, said afterward, "We neither support nor oppose the bill" because the agency isn't carrying it.Erin Armstrong, whose name is on this year's bill, says she is keeping an optimistic outlook. "The lesson of last year is we do have the support to get this through. We just need the time," she said.The 25-year-old Santa Fe native, who has thyroid cancer, sat in the front row during the hearing, next to her mother, Aging Department Secretary Deborah Armstrong.Because marijuana is an illegal substance in the United States, patients who used it would take a "calculated risk," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, part of a dues-paying national group that's lobbying for it. The bill cannot shield patients, doctors, growers or others involved in the process from the risk of federal prosecution. It would only protect them from prosecution under state laws, she said. If a doctor recommended marijuana for a patient, an application would be filed with the state Health Department, which would determine the proper dosage. The patient would carry a special card.As usual, law enforcement groups spoke against the bill, citing the conflict with federal law. District Attorney Donald Gallegos, who serves Taos, Union and Colfax counties, said Senate Bill 238 contained one important change: Licensed producers selected by the Health Department would grow and distribute the marijuana. Before, New Mexico State University was slated for the job, which would have put public employees "in a heck of a dilemma," he said.But he's still concerned about people selling the drug on the side or getting high it when they are not sick. The bill says people who use it fraudulently would face a petty misdemeanor, and licensed producers who give it to people not approved by the Health Department could face criminal or civil penalties.For the first time, Patty Jennings, the wife of Sen. Timothy Jennings, D-Roswell, made her case. Last October her breast cancer spread to her lungs. "It's a terrific option," she said. Cancer patients need more options, she said, because what works and what is compatible with other medications changes constantly. Jennings, 51, said she isn't worried that her five children would get the wrong idea if she smoked state-approved pot. "I have 200 morphine pills in a bottle in my purse all the time, and they know it's a whole lot more dangerous than a marijuana cigarette," she said. Complete Title: Medical Marijuana: Easy Panel Passage Gives Hope for Supporters     Source: New Mexican, The (Santa Fe, NM)Author: Diana Del Mauro, The New MexicanPublished: February 2, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Santa Fe New MexicanContact: webeditor Website: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 05, 2007 at 19:40:14 PT
AP: Medical Marijuana Bill Heads To Senate 
February 5, 2007SANTA FE (AP) -- A proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana is headed for a vote by the full Senate, which has endorsed it in the past.Supporters of the legislation steered the measure through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday on a 7-3 vote.Patients with cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and some other illnesses could be certified by their doctors to participate in a program run by the state Department of Health, which would issue identification cards.Patients in the program would be protected from prosecution by state authorities for possessing or using the drug.Law enforcement groups oppose the measure and note that marijuana is illegal under federal law and say there would be no immunization from federal prosecution under the bill. Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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Comment #6 posted by doc james on February 05, 2007 at 08:40:59 PT
Have your friend contact the Ohio Patients Network
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 02, 2007 at 16:50:02 PT
MI: Voters To Decide on Medicinal Marijuana Issue
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 02, 2007 at 12:14:03 PT
Press Release from The Drug Policy Alliance
Strong Start for Medical Marijuana and Other Reform Bills in New Mexico***Friday, February 2, 2007With New Mexico's legislative session in full gear, the Drug Policy Alliance Network is working on five different drug policy bills that are rooted in compassion and science. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, a medical marijuana bill, passed its first committee hearing yesterday.The hearing took place before the Senate Public Affairs Committee, which unanimously passed the bill. If the bill maintains its current momentum, this could be the third year in a row for Senate approval of medical marijuana legislation.The sticking point for medical marijuana in New Mexico in past years has been the House, where the legislative session ended in both 2005 and 2006 without a floor vote. Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico director Reena Szczepanski is optimistic about the bill's prospects this year. "I am confident that our elected officials see that this is an important issue for New Mexicans," she said. "I sincerely hope that they realize that the sick and dying should not have to wait any longer for relief."Other reform legislation is also off to a promising start in the legislature. A treatment bill and an overdose prevention bill both unanimously passed their committee hearings yesterday.Another bill, to improve Medicaid coverage of substance abuse treatment, is being heard today before the Senate Public Affairs Committee. This legislation is sorely needed because New Mexico has one of the highest rates of unmet treatment needs for adults and teens in the country.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 02, 2007 at 07:45:26 PT
Here's an article on Minnesota. I read that Al Franken will be running for Senator in your state. He is on our side and maybe if he wins he will help.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 02, 2007 at 07:42:43 PT
I'm sorry but I'm not associated with the organization but I would think go to their web site and they might have contact information that might help you. I just hope they get the Bill in Ohio passed soon for all the people of Ohio.
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Comment #1 posted by Rainbow on February 02, 2007 at 07:29:01 PT
MN too
Minnesota Senate bill SF345 is in committee. I doubt even at this early stage it will make it.My senate contact who is a minority whip did not even know about it and then also was suggesting that he would not even know Cannabis if someone brought it in to his office. Like someone would do that and immediately be arrested.I am not sure how to read him as I have been sending him data for quite a while. I sense a trap. But then with me there is nothing to trap.FoM do you have a contact for the Ohio patients assn? A friend with HIV for 22 years needs to contact someone to get medicine. He is prepared to drive thousands of miles but I would rather he get in contact with some compassionate people instead.Rainbow
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