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  New Mexico's Pot Connection
Posted by CN Staff on July 05, 2007 at 11:02:10 PT
By Brittany Bacon 
Source: ABC News  

medical New Mexico -- New Mexico is set to become the first U.S. state to set up a cultivation and distribution system for medical marijuana, sewing the seeds of a possible showdown with federal drug enforcement authorities.

Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, signed the "pot bill" into law this year and tasked the state's Department of Health with establishing a way to grow and distribute the crop to patients by Oct. 1. The new law may be at odds with federal law, which supersedes state laws, and tightly controls who can grow marijuana and for what purposes.

Even New Mexico's Attorney General Gary King doesn't endorse the plan. "We are not behind this. This is not part of what we were asked to look at, and it is not the position of the attorney general," said Phil Sisneros, the attorney general's director of communications.

The state can't guarantee that marijuana users and distributors won't be prosecuted under federal law, he said. That's a situation that has become all too common in California, where the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has raided dozens of medical marijuana "pot clubs," claiming they are simply distributing weed to anyone who drops in.

"It comes down to politics and the degree to which the federal government wants to employ law enforcement resources to try to stop a state from providing medicine to sick people," said Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that lobbies for relaxation of drug laws.

Smoky Future for State Law

The state is immune from federal prosecution if it simply allows patients and caregivers to cultivate the medicine themselves, Abrahamson said. But when the state itself is the grower and provider, there might be conflict with federal law, he admitted.

Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said exceptions to U.S. marijuana law have been made for university-sponsored research programs. But he doubts they will apply to the New Mexico plan.

To gain an exception to the Controlled Substances Act, which regulates the manufacture, possession and distribution of controlled substances, federal law requires that one who grows or distributes marijuana must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Garrison Courtney, a DEA spokesman.

The DEA looks at what the drug is, how it's used, and the security controls in place before it approves the producer or distributor, he said. Even where security measures have appeared strong in other states, DEA officials said the agency has busted countless medical marijuana clinics that looked legitimate but in reality sold pot to nonpatients.

From a federal standpoint, the fate of any New Mexico-sanctioned distribution system isn't clear. The DEA generally goes after large-scale drug trafficking, and leaves the arrests of local users mostly to state law enforcement, Courtney said.

Pot Policy Debate

New Mexico's Department of Health said it's trying to spare patients the travails of buying drugs on the black market by supplying them with medical marijuana from a known, secure source under strict regulation and quality control.

"It's pointless to say that these individuals can have access and then not give them a way to legally get the marijuana that doesn't feed drug dealers," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, who lobbied for the past three years for the new law. She said she hopes that some day patients will have safe and affordable access to medical marijuana from their local pharmacies.

But some critics in Washington aren't convinced and say the 11 states that have passed medical marijuana laws are sending the wrong message.

"This isn't about doctors trying to ease pain. It's about drug legalization groups hiding behind people who are sick and dying in order to promote their cause," said Lemaitre of the Office of Drug Control Policy. The implementation of other state medical marijuana laws has led to egregious abuses of the system, particularly in California, he said.

In North Hollywood, Calif., alone, there are now more medical pot clubs than Starbucks outlets, he said. Less than two years ago, there were only four marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, and this year's figure has topped 100.

People who use pot for medical purposes say the New Mexico law is much needed. A multiple sclerosis sufferer and medicinal marijuana user, who asked to be called "Lynne," told ABC News that a state-sponsored distribution system would put her at ease. "It would be great to have a regulated distribution system. This could mean that I will never have to deal with a criminal again or just not be able to get pain relief because I can't find a dealer," she said.

Starting July 1, patients in the state began applying for the medicinal marijuana program to obtain an identification card that would provide immunity from state prosecution for possessing a three-month supply of up to 6 ounces of pot.

To qualify, the patient's primary doctor must certify that the patient suffers either from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity, epilepsy or HIV/ADS, and that the benefit of medical marijuana outweighs the potential risks.

"It's a compassionate policy, and I'm hopeful that when the Bush administration has more pressing issues like the war in Iraq to tackle, this one will be allowed to survive," Abrahamson said.

Note: State to Become First to Set Up Medical Marijuana Distribution, Over Fed Objections.

Source: ABC News (US Web)
Author: Brittany Bacon
Published: July 5, 2007
Copyright: 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
Contact: http://tinyurl.com/d7744
Website: http://www.abcnews.go.com/

Related Articles & Web Site:

Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org/

Law Requires N.M. To Grow Its Own Pot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23140.shtml

State To Let Patients Grow Their Own Pot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23138.shtml

New Mexico's New Pot Law Becomes Effective
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23133.shtml


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Comment #15 posted by FoM on July 20, 2007 at 15:21:46 PT
New Mexicans Applying for Medical Marijuana
July 20, 2007

SANTA FE (AP) - Twenty-two New Mexicans have applied for medical marijuana since the state this month began allowing people with certain debilitating conditions to use the drug for nausea.

The state Department of Health had approved six applications as of Friday, according to department spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer.

She says four were denied because those people didn't have a condition eligible for the program.

The law allows marijuana use for specified conditions including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and HIV-AIDS.

Health officials await an opinion from the attorney general whether Health Department employees could be federally prosecuted for running the program and whether the agency can license marijuana producers.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

http://kob.com/article/stories/S145272.shtml?cat=504

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #14 posted by charmed quark on July 05, 2007 at 20:03:19 PT
med cannabis in CA
What I saw a few times at cannabis clubs were whole buds that had been individually vacuum packed. They said it stayed fresh quite a long time that way, especially if refrigerated. The user would open the vacuum pack, grind a small quantity with a grater-like device, and vaporize the grated power. The rest of the bud would go back in the fridge.

I was really impressed with some of the clubs. They would have different varieties packaged as buds and labeled with the cultiver type and the percentage of THC, CBD and some other cannabinoids.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #13 posted by FoM on July 05, 2007 at 18:53:05 PT
Sam Adams
For years I took many herbs everyday and then slowly I realized I didn't need them because they helped me and I was fine. I like that about herbs. You can use them until you don't need them anymore.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #12 posted by whig on July 05, 2007 at 17:43:49 PT
RRG
Funny, I forgot that saffron was mentioned in that song.

Hey, it's actually supposed to be psychoactive too.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #11 posted by Sam Adams on July 05, 2007 at 17:19:35 PT
pharmacies
It's true about pharmacies, it seems like they cannot be attuned to western medicine and herbal medicine at the same time.

The only herbs they sell are powder extract capsules, which are inferior to alcohol-based tinctures. I've never seen a pharmacy carry the best in herbal medicine, like Herb Pharm, etc.



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #10 posted by RevRayGreen on July 05, 2007 at 15:56:40 PT
E-lec-tric-al Ba-nana
Long live the Hurdy Gurdy Man.......

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #9 posted by FoM on July 05, 2007 at 14:57:25 PT
whig
At this health food store roots weren't ground up. The herbs were though. Cannabis is the flower not the whole plant like many herbs so it would be treated differently. I assume that if it was legal every top line health food store would have a fresh supply constantly and wouldn't need to ship it or import it. The lady who owned this health food store I'm talking about bought herbs from individual people when they had herbs or roots available rather then from a big herb farm. They even had a study group that met once a week on psychotropics.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #8 posted by whig on July 05, 2007 at 14:24:05 PT
Saffron
It's an interesting herb itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #7 posted by whig on July 05, 2007 at 14:19:38 PT
Expensive herbs like saffron
If you want to buy Saffron you can find it in sealed containers. This might be a way that cannabis can be shipped to stores and sold when it is legal.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #6 posted by whig on July 05, 2007 at 14:17:56 PT
FoM
I don't think herbs are all the same. Cannabis is best when it is treated with some respect and not all chopped up in advance to get stale.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #5 posted by FoM on July 05, 2007 at 12:54:52 PT
whig
Plants are alive. Pills just are pills. I have been to a big health food store on the East Coast with jars of herbs that are sold by weight and sent with the person in a plastic baggie. It seemed like the way it should be to me.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #4 posted by whig on July 05, 2007 at 12:45:55 PT
FoM
Pharmacies stock shelves with pills that don't need to be kept in the same kinds of environmental conditions that herbs need to stay fresh. You can't just order up cannabis the way you do a batch of some chemical.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #3 posted by FoM on July 05, 2007 at 11:53:34 PT
Pharmacies
I don't understand why anyone would want medicinal cannabis in pharmacies since herbs are not a drug and shouldn't be against the law because herbs are legal. Pharmacies handle drugs not medicinal herbs.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on July 05, 2007 at 11:34:58 PT
govt grow
"It's pointless to say that these individuals can have access and then not give them a way to legally get the marijuana that doesn't feed drug dealers," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, who lobbied for the past three years for the new law. She said she hopes that some day patients will have safe and affordable access to medical marijuana from their local pharmacies.

That's a nice idea! It really is. But I look over the Atlantic at Holland, a country with outstanding public transportation, clean, safe cities with well-maintained roads and infrastructure. The Dutch government tried to grow MJ and provide it to patients in pharmacies, and after a couple years, they gave up. There was no way they could match the quality and consistency of the recreational product available in private-sector coffeeshops.

So I have to wonder if this is even a worthy goal for the reform movement. I'd be SHOCKED if any branch of state or federal government could do better on this than private, compassionate individual businessmen and women.

6 ounces is a good amount though!

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 05, 2007 at 11:27:18 PT
Three-Month Supply of Up to 6 Ounces of Pot
This is a good beginning. I would think that an ounce a week would be more in line but 6 ounces is a good start.

[ Post Comment ]

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