Medical Marijuana To Be Legal Next Week in N.M. 

  Medical Marijuana To Be Legal Next Week in N.M. 

Posted by CN Staff on June 28, 2007 at 20:33:45 PT
By  The Associated Press  
Source: Associated Press 

Tesuque, N.M. -- Martin Walker is looking forward to the day when his marijuana smoking will be legal.Since he was diagnosed four years ago as HIV positive, Walker has used the drug to fight the nausea that frequently grips his gut and the depression that's never far away. But the relief comes at a price: worrying that getting busted buying the illegal drug could cost him his job and forever blot his record.
He's counting on a new state law to provide some peace of mind. As of July 1, patients with HIV-AIDS and certain other debilitating conditions can qualify for a new medical marijuana program."If there's a system in place that's going to allow me to do this treatment without having to break the law ... I'll just be able to sleep better at night," said Walker, who runs outdoor-based adult health programs for the Santa Fe Mountain Center.New Mexico is the 12th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana use — and the only one that calls for state-licensed production and distribution of the drug.The law — passed in March and signed by Gov. Bill Richardson, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination — requires the Department of Health to issue rules by Oct. 1 for licensing marijuana producers within the state and for developing a distribution system."The long-term goal is that the patients will have a safe, secure supply that doesn't mean drug dealers, that doesn't mean growing their own" and that doesn't encourage profiteering, said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico.As of July 1, the department will take applications from patients whose doctors certify they're eligible for the program.Within weeks, approved patients — or their approved primary caregivers — would receive temporary certificates allowing them to possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and three immature seedlings. That's enough supply for three months, according to the health department.The law allows the use of marijuana for specified conditions including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and HIV-AIDS, as well as by some patients in hospice care.An eight-member advisory board of doctors could recommend that other conditions be added to the list. The board also will likely review the department's decisions on applications."It keeps medicine at the heart of the program," Szczepanski said.The distribution and use of marijuana are illegal under federal law, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in a California case that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted.Faced with that dilemma, the health department has asked state Attorney General Gary King whether its employees could be federally prosecuted for running the registry and identification card program, and whether the agency can license marijuana producers and facilities."The production part is unprecedented. ... No other state law does that," said Dr. Steve Jenison, medical director of the health department's Infectious Disease Bureau, who is running the new program. "So we're trying to be very thoughtful in how we proceed."The attorney general hasn't weighed in on the issue yet.Walker, who lobbied for the bill for three years, says he was elated when it passed.A former drug abuser — his missing front teeth a testament to five years of crystal meth — he fights to keep his weight up but has lost 70 pounds in the past year."The nausea can be overwhelming. It's a feeling like somebody's inside your gut, just grabbing your stomach and just squeezing it," he said.And depression is a serious problem for many people living with HIV, said the 31-year-old. He oversees programs including HIV prevention and testing and needle exchange, as well as adventure outings for people with HIV-AIDS."Though we may live longer now because of medications, there is no cure. ... You're still very conscious of the fact that you're going to die because of this," Walker said.The other states that protect medical marijuana patients from state prosecution are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Maryland's law doesn't protect patients from arrest, but it sets a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time for defendants who can convince judges they needed marijuana for medical reasons.Connecticut's governor vetoed a medical marijuana bill recently.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Published:  June 28, 2007Copyright: 2007 Associated Press Related Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Alliance Mexico's New Pot Law Becomes Effective Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 30, 2007 at 11:44:50 PT

Someone could stand up and dare them to come and take them down. That would sure bring state's right back in the picture. If Governor Richardson picks someone to grow it and everyone knows it I have an anxiety attack just thinking of it! No not really. LOL!
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Comment #6 posted by whig on June 30, 2007 at 11:41:54 PT

Because of this new law, the state of New Mexico would be on the same side with the grower. Not merely to say that it is legal, but to say they are party to the growing. The problem is this supreme court might still rule against them, and we need to change the federal laws.
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Comment #5 posted by whig on June 30, 2007 at 11:37:57 PT

Different circuit
Nothing that happened in the Rosenthal case (9th circuit) necessarily binds the 10th circuit. The position may well be to challenge precisely that and do it openly.Someone may stand up and be authorized by New Mexico to grow cannabis and dare the federal government to prosecute.
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Comment #4 posted by whig on June 30, 2007 at 11:34:36 PT

Consider anyone who grows for the state of NM could be in the same circumstance as Ed.
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Comment #3 posted by whig on June 30, 2007 at 11:32:47 PT

I think you're right, but Bill Richardson is still the governor which means he's got to have some idea what he's going to have the state do.The problem with any state growing cannabis is that Ed Rosenthal was convicted again in federal court for doing what he was deputized to do by the city of Oakland under the laws of California. Federal pre-emption meant the jury wasn't even allowed to know that he was authorized by the local government or have any witnesses in his defense.If they pull you into federal court they don't allow state defenses, is the bottom line.
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Comment #2 posted by WolfgangWylde on June 30, 2007 at 11:20:46 PT

Mark my words...
...Not one plant will be cultivated by the State. Just ain't gonna happen. 
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Comment #1 posted by Dr Ganj on June 29, 2007 at 19:47:32 PT

It's A Start
Let me quote this;
"four mature plants and three immature seedlings."
For most of us, that is certainly not enough plants to bring relief. 
What most people don't understand is indoor plants do not yield much usable herbal medicine. Maybe, and I emphasize maybe, each plant will yield one ounce of good buds. 
The cops frequently state a plant will yield a pound, and is worth 4-5000 dollars each. That's pure rubbish. If it were true, I'd be driving a new Porsche. The law in New Mexico is a good start, and is promising, but most patients will be forced to grow more plants than allowed to supply their needs.
It should have been worded similarly to what Humboldt county has promulgated-which is as many plants that can be grown in a 100 square foot area. That is realistic, as many people are not expert growers, and need a cushion to compensate for mold, or unhealthy, low yielding plants. HID, or high intensity discharge lamps do not penetrate more than 2-3 feet. Therefore large plants do not yield a lot of good, usable buds that patients require.
To limit the amount of plants one can grow indoors is not realistic. It will only complicate matters.
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