New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law Is Working

New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law Is Working
Posted by CN Staff on May 26, 2008 at 04:37:10 PT
By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle
Source: AlterNet
New Mexico -- After an exhausting seven-year struggle, New Mexico joined the ranks of the medical marijuana states last year. As of July 1, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program will be a year old, but while parts of the program are well underway -- patients are registering and obtaining ID cards -- the state law's innovative system of state-licensed production and distribution of medical marijuana is stalled in the regulatory process, with no end in sight anytime soon.
Under the New Mexico law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, patients suffering from a narrowly circumscribed set of illnesses -- cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord damage with intractable plasticity, and HIV/AIDS -- can, with a doctor's recommendation and upon registration with the program, legally possess and use up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants, and three seedlings. The law also calls for a medical advisory board to determine whether other conditions should be added to the list.Some 147 patients have registered with the state as of Wednesday, said Melissa Milam, head of the Medical Cannabis Program. "We're the little program that could," she said. "We just keep plugging along.""The patients are really excited to get their ID cards and have some legal protections," agreed Reena Szczepanski, head for the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico office, who has been intimately involved in the passage and implementation of the law. "The Department of Health and the Medical Cannabis Program are doing a great job of working with the patients, and it's been very thoughtfully implemented in terms of registration and the medical advisory board," she said.But the law also provides for designated caregivers to be able to grow for patients and for a system of state licensing of production and distribution. Although the law called for the Department of Health to promulgate regulations for production and distribution by last October 1, that hasn't happened yet. As a result, the provisions for caregivers and licensed production and distribution have not gone into effect. That means patients must either grow their own medicine or procure it on the black market.The Department of Health finally promulgated draft regulations in December and held a public hearing on them on January 14. Those draft rules provided for "five different kinds of licensed producers: a qualified patient, a caregiver, an association of persons, a private entity, or a state owned and/or operated facility."Based on the input it got in the hearing process, the department has been crafting a revised draft of the regulations ever since. "We're still working on that rule," said Deb Busemeyer, spokesperson for the Department of Health. "We held a public hearing and received written and oral comments, and we made some revisions, and it looks like we'll probably hold another public hearing to let people comment on our revisions."Busemeyer was vague on a timeline, offering only that she expects a hearing "some time this year" and resolutely declining to predict when the regulations on production and distribution would actually be implemented.But he department is committed to crafting the production and distribution regulations, Busemeyer said. "The governor was really clear -- this is an important program, and he wants us to figure out how to implement the law. We've been working on hard on this, we believe in this program, we're not dropping it by any means, but we want a good strong law with the right kind of rules, so we're taking our time," she said.Still, Busemeyer conceded that the delay was hard on patients. "They still have to get it the same way patients do in those other medical marijuana states," she said."The biggest source of dissatisfaction among patients is where do you get it?" said Szczepanski. "It's the same situation as in so many other medical marijuana states. That's why the legislature was keen on the state-licensed distribution system; the intention was that New Mexico would be different."It may well turn out to be different, but the question is when. "I'm concerned that we don't have a date for when the rest of the regulations are coming out," said Szczepanski. "I don't have any reason to believe they won't implement it, but I'd like to know the time frame."Although Szczepanski bemoaned delays in drafting the regulations, she said she is glad the department is holding another public hearing. "My understanding is that they are working on significant changes to the regs, and we are pleased to have a formal opportunity to have input," she said. "If there are drastic changes from the first draft, it's better to have another hearing."While each of the five sorts of licensed producers and distributors envisioned in the first draft of the regulations has its advantages, there is a strong argument to be made for including a state-owned or -operated component, said Szczepanski. "We are a largely rural state and we have to be concerned about equality of access," she noted. "New Mexico has public health offices scattered around the state, and we have a Department of Agriculture at our state university that knows how to grow things. The possible downside to a single supplier is that if it's producing poor quality medicine or not delivering a range of products, what do you do?"The best solution would be to have a mix of licensees as envisioned in the first draft regulations, Szczepanski agued. "Having a variety of options is important for patients. If you're in a small town with a public health office and only using for a short time, that might work for you. But if you live in Albuquerque and have a chronic condition with specific health needs, you might want other options. We have to do what's best for the patients," she said.While Szczepanski chafed at the delays, she saw no sinister forces at work. "The feds pushed back against us when we were in the legislature, but I haven't heard any rumblings at all about any pressure from Washington," she said. "Our local opponents have also been very quiet. There's nothing for them to glom onto to; there have been no scandals or abuses or outrages. The program is working and the patients have their cards and are protected," she said.But they still need help growing their medicine while the Department of Health ponders the regulations. The department could take interim steps to ease their plight, said Szczepanski. "If the department is going to wait much longer to produce the production and distribution regulations, they need to start certifying caregivers immediately," she said. "The department says it doesn't have the authority to do that until the regs are published, and we're not looking for hasty action, but the caregiver regulations could be done now. There are already applications pending."Note: Issues remain over production and distribution.Complete Title: New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law Is Working, But Still Has Some KinksPhillip S. Smith is Staff Writer for the Drug War Chronicle.Source: AlterNet (US)Author: Phillip S. Smith, Drug War ChroniclePublished: May 26, 2008Copyright: 2008 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Articles & Web Site:Stop The Drug War Fears Hack Away at State’s Pot Plan Mexico Won't Supply MMJ To Patients Requires N.M. To Grow Its Own Pot 
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Comment #11 posted by museman on May 29, 2008 at 08:28:15 PT
interesting, Sam
Funny how after all these years I never made that connection. More than plausible.Duh! The pipe, the 'spinach' in the pipe...And the slang expression 'spinach' used during the depression. Remember hearing about that, but not the connection to popeye.I'm going to view Popeye with a much more critical, but happy eye in the future.thanks for the link.
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on May 28, 2008 at 11:36:22 PT
it's more than just an analogy:
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Comment #9 posted by museman on May 27, 2008 at 17:46:45 PT
#6 & 7 & 9
I am only one voice, but if I speak for others even better.I've seen mimzy, its definitely a good movie.Look forward to DVD...maybe an address I can send something, like CD or even DVD back to?;)The Popeye analogy works. "I Yam what I Yam, and I can't stands no more!"
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Comment #8 posted by Sam adams on May 27, 2008 at 13:38:16 PT
Great story!!! thank you. Without Cannabis we'd be like Popeye without his spinach.
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on May 26, 2008 at 15:58:22 PT
That’s cool…************On another note. I ordered the Zeitgeist DVD, its in high resolution. When I receive it, I will send you a copy.,_the_Movie
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Comment #6 posted by dankhank on May 26, 2008 at 14:23:12 PT
some powerful stuff there ...many of us here could say that stuff, you are the one to put it down for the rest of us ...If you haven't seen this you should try, too ... indeed ...
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Comment #5 posted by museman on May 26, 2008 at 12:19:06 PT
The Miracle Herb part 2
*************continued*****************"As you know from your history lessons, some of our ancestors were once enslaved to some of our other ancestors. They were called many names. After a great war, called 'The Civil War' that kind of slavery was ended, and the once slaves began to become active citizens in what was known as the United States."A hand went up. "I know, I know!""Go ahead.""They made music that the,.. the 'rulers' didn't like.""Well yes, but it was the fact that all the people, except the rulers, liked the music, and discovered that the former slaves were smoking cannabis to inspire their music, called 'Jazz,' and started to smoke cannabis too. That made the rulers scared, so they made 'laws' against using cannabis.""You mean sick people would get into trouble if they used it?""Yes, pretty evil huh?""And they couldn't use it for food, clothing, or anything else?""Not without going to prison if they got caught. But the people who used it, got high, remembered themselves, and realized that the rulers were bad, and their laws stupid, so they continued to get high and play music.For many years, it was mostly the former slaves called 'Black People' who were persecuted by the rulers, and put in prison, so the other people called 'white people' didn't think it concerned them, and most of them preferred the 'getting low' of drinking alcohol, to the 'getting high' of the herb.""People drank alcohol?" One little girl gasped. "But doesn't that destroy brain cells?""Yes.""Boy, no wonder they were all so stupid." said the boy right next to her.Laughter."Yes. It was like the whole earth was under a cloud of darknes and ignorance. The Jazz music, and something called 'rythm and blues' went underground...""They dug holes?"Laughter again."No, it just means that they had to go under the rules, and hide from the 'law' so the called it 'underground.'""Anyway, the culture of cannabis and music continued despite attempts by what was called the "Status Quo" to stop it.""That means the rulers and rich people, the 'Status Quo?'" asked the bright one."Yes, and part of the game they invented called 'politics' to control the people with laws, and cops, and prisons. They cleverly made a war for every generation, so that they could control the population of eager, energetic youth, and create killers that could in turn be used as cops. But they made many mistakes with their lies and something called the 'middle class' came about after a great war. From that middle class came what your history shows were called the 'baby boomers.'Technology had reached a point where many people were beginning to have lives comparable to their rulers, mass communication allowed them to talk to other people across great distances, and the music of the cannabis underground was heard in other countries.There was a group of English youth who loved the Jazz, and the Rythm and Blues so much, that they began a movement and many people loved their music. When they discovered the cannabis use of the Jazz underground they took the whole thing to another level. There was a war, called VietNam that was meant to do the same thing as all the other wars, but the young men started listening to the music, and smoking cannabis. They got high, remembered themselves, realized that the war, all wars were wrong, and rose up in peaceful revolution to challenge the rulers.""You're talking about 'the sixites' right?""And Saint John the Beatle?""Yes, I am. And today is what we call "Memorial Day." Today we honor those who sacrificed their lives for truth, and creation. See that wall over there?"All the children turn to look at the Cannabis Monument, a well known fixture in every town square."On that wall are the names of all the true heroes of liberty and freedom, who fought against tyranny with truth and the courage to stand without violence, destruction, and weaponry as their tools. The names of Lennon, Leary, Garcia, Hendrix, and so many others will live forever in our history, even though the Clintons, Bushes, and Reagans tried everything they could to stop them.""Who were they?""Doesn't matter, inconsequential idiots who didn't know when to quit. Probably from all the alcohol and chemicals they ingested. They are best forgotten, as their lives hold nothing of any benefit to anyone. They made something called the "War on Drugs" which led to their eventual downfall, because it was already too late.""What do you mean?""Too many people had gotten high, remembered themselves, gained liberty in the realization of the truth, and did not want to go back into the bondage of ignorance and service to lies and false rulers. It became a greater force in the world until the higness of mind and elevation of consiousness finally displaced the lowness, and people went back to natural lives, leaving the polluting world of waste, war, and consumption behind. One by one, the states changed the laws to allow people to use cannabis again, until there was just no point in continuing the silly games any more. People woke up and realized that they are themselves responsible for their lives, and the idea of rulers, or 'leaders' faded from the consciousnessa of mankind.""Yay!""Yippie!""Well children, you should all go and play now, but never forget, remember with joy and fondness the heroes that have made this all possible."peace
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Comment #4 posted by museman on May 26, 2008 at 10:47:16 PT
The Miracle Herb -part 1
That brought down the Amerikan Leviathan.In less than 50 years, the children will gather round to hear the unbelievable tales of how the people had been enslaved to an invented system that polluted, wasted resources, and only a very few benefited from it.They will be astonished to hear that people went from here to there at great breakneck speeds, but actually accomplished very little.They will hear the horrible stories of the many wars fought without just cause or reason. When the storyteller shows them a small artifact from that time -some kind of 'medal' he says- the children will not believe that this token was the supreme reward for losing life and limb in the wars.They will hear of the struggle of good people against the tyranny of the 'state.'"Whats a state?" One would surely ask.The story teller, who was a child during the transition, scratches his chin and laughs."It was a territory, or land area marked out by imaginary lines drawn on a map. All the people in a state would have what they called 'laws' which 'governed' the way the people lived.""You mean that all the people in that state had to do what the govern...the govern..""The 'government'" supplied the storyteller.""..the go-vern-ment. All the people had to do what the go-vern-ment told them to do?""Yes, incredible isn't it?""What happens when the people didn't do what the gov.. the gov...""Government.""Yes that, whatever. What happened to the people who didn't do what they said?""well they had jails and prisons that they put people in.""What are those?""Well, they were big boxes made of a kind of stone they called 'concrete.' You can still see some of these concrete boxes, when we go on a trip to the Dead City. They put people in these boxes, that had no windows, and metal bars, like cages.""What happened to their civilization?" asked a particularly bright child.""Well, the teachers tell you about how mankind lived in the shadow of a few powerful people, who invented a kind of game called 'capitalism' where little pieces of paper with a lot of writing on them became more valuable than life itslelf!""Little pieces of paper?" asked the bright child, "Surely our ancestors weren't all that stupid?""Alas, child, most of them were. They believed that those pieces of paper had power, because the 'laws' forced teachers to teach false things, and the few people in power gave many pieces of paper called 'dollars' to make movies and TV shows telling false stories about history, and the greatness of the few that were called the "Rich." (The chidren all know about 'movies and TV' they'd seen examples on a recent trip to the museum.)They made what they called "religions" which taught that some of the people were better than others, and that it was set up that way by God!""Oh!" said a young girl, "but isn't that kind of like 'blasphemy?""Well yes, but as I said the people were taught to be ignorant and fearful, they did not know until it was too late -usually when the beast-men, I think they called them 'cops,' would break down their dooors and take them away to their prison boxes- that they had been lied to, and used and abused by a small group of evil humans.""How did it change?""One word; 'cannabis.'""You mean the wonder plant?""Yes.""How?""Well, if your history teachers have been doing their job, you should know that throughout the history of Earth, cannabis has been used for many many things. Who can tell me some of its uses?""Rope.""Yes, what else.""Medicine.""Clothing.""Cooking oil, and alcohol.""Food.""Yes those are all part of the many uses of cannabis. But can anyone tell me one of the most important things that cannabis does for us, for grown-ups?"A lot of giggling and laughter.A hand went up."Yes?""You use it to get high!"Laughter."Yes, but do you know what that means, to 'get high.'""Well, you just get higher in your mind when you use it.""Close. When you are adults you can find out for yourself. Sometimes when you are sick a healer might let you eat it, or in an emergency smoke it, but other than that you have to wait. As children you are what we call 'naturally high' so you don't need it, but adult life can be hard sometimes, and we need to 'get high' so we remember how to be children."Laughter."You want to be children? I just want to grow up!""Me too!""Me three!"Laughing as well, the storyteller holds up his hand to cause the laughter to subside."As I was saying earlier, throughout our history cannabis has been used for many things, and until fairly recently in our history, it was never 'against the law.' A little over a hundred years ago a thing happened that made the rulers scared..""You mean measuring sticks?"Laughter."No, that's what they called the 'rich people' who lived off the effort and energy of the rest of the people.""They were evil!""Yes they were, and they ruled for thousands of years. Every time the people would rise up against them, they would somehow creep back in and re-establish their power. As long as most of the people were allowed to live somewhat natural lives, they got away with it, and might be ruling still, if it weren't for cannabis."
 *****continued in next post*************(didn't want to make an error)
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Comment #3 posted by RevRayGreen on May 26, 2008 at 10:21:05 PT
Comment #2 
I feel you on that, walls will crumble as more states will pass compassionate laws.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on May 26, 2008 at 10:14:24 PT
let's face it
This might was as well be called "Waiting for Obama". New Mexico and Rhode Island are poised to become the 2nd and 3rd dispensary states as soon as the feds call the dogs off.
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Comment #1 posted by OverwhelmSam on May 26, 2008 at 08:26:41 PT
Wow! A Year Old Already
However, if marijuana were regulated for adult use, all these medical marijuana laws would be moot. Time to kick it up to the next level.
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