Sunday, August 18, 2019

Public Comment for Governor’s Legalization Working Group Meeting: August 14, Albuquerque



Safe Access New Mexico
Comments By: Jason Barker 

Safe Access New Mexico Facebook Community Page
Safe Access New Mexico Facebook Group
www.cannabisnewsjournal.co



Public Comment for Governor’s Legalization Working Group
Meeting: August 14, Albuquerque 

Working Group Website: https://marijuana.2020nm.com/meeting-august-14/

Introduction: The Cannabis Regulation Act proposes several changes to the state’s current medical cannabis program, all of which would have a very negative impact on medical cannabis.

First and Foremost our state legislators should be keeping all Medical Cannabis Policy and Recreational Cannabis Policy separate in all Legislation.

This year during the 2019 60 day legislative session, Rep. Martinez, Senator Ortiz y Pino and Drug Policy Alliance conducted a Zoom Conference Call online to address the concerns of the Cannabis Regulation Act on Feb 12, 2019 in the morning. Has this video conference from this most recent legislative session be provided to the Working Group Chairperson to review? 
During this video call patients were able to ask questions and address concerns about recreational legalization, this conference call earlier in the year exposed how the legislative sponsors of this proposed bill did not know that in other states with medical cannabis programs after recreational cannabis legalization, ALL of those state medical cannabis programs have suffered. This will happen in New Mexico too due to how this bill has been written. The Working Group Chairperson and the members of the public should have access to this video call as it does address state policy currently being addressed and discussed.

Suggested Reading: ‘Will Recreational Use of Cannabis Impact Medical Use?’ | National Pain Report | 01.07.2019 | Link: http://nationalpainreport.com/will-recreational-use-affect-medical-use-8838278.html

‘So Tired of Still Fighting for Medical Cannabis Rights’ | National Pain Report | 07.28.2019 | Link: http://nationalpainreport.com/so-tired-of-still-fighting-for-medical-cannabis-rights-8840612.html


ASA’s Resources for Policy Makers, Medical Professionals & Researchers:Utilizing ASA’s eleven years of experience in implementing medical cannabis laws and our “Legislating Compassion” and “Regulating Compassion” policy tools, ASA staff offer patient advocates and policy makers legislative and regulatory analysis, amendments for legislation and regulations, strategy advice, campaign development and support, and targeted lobbying materials.
Link: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/policy_shop


Public Comment Provided:

SECTION 3: CREATING A CANNABIS CONTROL DIVISION IN RLD
PART 1: Establishing a cannabis control board
[2019 HB-356; pgs 11 - 16 Link to HB-356: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0356.pdf]

The need for New Mexico to include the state medical cannabis program as part of this proposed Cannabis Control Division reveals how this proposed Cannabis Regulation Act, this recreational cannabis program is a system of regulation being built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws in New Mexico. Using the state’s medical cannabis program to create a recreational cannabis program will result in great harm coming to the state’s medical cannabis program, Americans For Safe Access policy expertise advises that any system of regulation should not be built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws. And with over 100,000 active members in all 50 states, ASA is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. 

I would highly suggest that the Working Group Chairperson, Mr. Davis, to please take the time for a conference call with the Director of Americans For Safe Access, Debbi Churgai and David Mangone Esq., Director of Government Affairs and Legislative Counsel, to discuss what truly is at stake for New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program and its Participants. [https://www.safeaccessnow.org/policy_shop]

The legal scope of the proposed Cannabis Control Division should only pertain to recreational cannabis program policy and proposed activity, modeling it after the Colorado recreational program law would be the best option for New Mexico.

The membership for the cannabis control advisory committee is only eight (8) members, that is a small number limiting input, this does not allow for cognitive diversity, and therefore membership should be increased to 12-15 members.

The proposed membership for the state cannabis advisory board for ongoing policy recommendations and public reporting of industry impacts and outcomes; should be structured to handle only recreational cannabis policy items and its membership approval should be required to go through the public hearing process allowing public comment for membership approval.

The state medical cannabis program and all its regulation oversight should and must remain separate from any proposed recreational cannabis legislation and future law. Interfering with the state’s medical cannabis program in a proposed recreational cannabis law will result in the bill failing to pass the legislature again for the 9th year in a row, ethically its just wrong.

Those 8 years of trying to legalize recreational cannabis has interfered with the medical program operation due to the fact of how attempts at recreational cannabis legislation have taken up a lot more legislative time when compared to any medical cannabis bills filed over those 8 years - legislative time during the floor sessions, time in committees and when out of session time spent with interim committees and meetings about recreational cannabis as compared to any thing for the medical cannabis program in the legislature in the last 8 years.

If lawmakers in New Mexico are going to take on the Failed War on Drugs then please finish what you started with Medical Cannabis. New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978, after public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis. We need to maintain this ethical medical value.

The only way the Cannabis Control Board will have any chance of having success in undercutting the illicit cannabis market will be to include a 10 plant home grow measure added to this proposed recreational cannabis law. If you tell people they can not have home grow then a lot of people will grow and ignore the law, if home grow is allowed the state will see a very small number of people trying to grow. Patients in the state’s medical cannabis program have the option for home grow and less than 10% of the near 80,000 registered participants actually use home grow. Allowing home grow in the recreational cannabis law will reduce the illicit cannabis market. A recreational cannabis bill without a home grow option is only fostering the failed war on drugs and would not allow for social injustices to be fully addressed.

Home grow does not enable an illicit cannabis market, we have already seen in Oregon, Washington, and California that cannabis industry business contribute the most to the black market.  [Hidden in Plain Sight: California Illegal Cannabis Market Booming | 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | August 16, 2019 | https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/hidden-in-plain-sight-california-illegal-cannabis-market-booming]


Part 2: What practices and standards should be regulated?
Accredited Training and Education
These requirements are missing and there should be a mandated accredited educational requirement for every person employed at a recreational cannabis producer. Accredited training should be mandated for: Cultivation, Manufacturing, Distribution, and Laboratory.

Accredited educational training about cannabis is non-existent in New Mexico for the cannabis industry and bartenders and servers are required by law to have more training than current medical cannabis dispensary staff.

Training and Business Services
[https://safeaccess2.org/patientfocusedcertification/business-services/]



Cannabis Laboratory Testing
New Mexico needs to get serious about testing cannabis for safety, we are the state that tested the Atom bomb but we do not test cannabis for heavy metals. New Mexico should follow the recommendations made by Steep Hill Labs to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in 2017 and need to be addressed in any future recreational cannabis law.
Resource: “THERE IS NO FDA IN CANNABIS TESTING
Therefore, Safe Cannabis for Patients is Left to the States States Must Respond on Behalf of Patients”
[https://www.nmlegis.gov/handouts/LHHS%20101617%20Item%209%20Dr.%20Reggie%20Gaudino%20Testimony%20with%20NM%20Samples%2010_17_17.pdf]

Laboratory Training
[https://safeaccess2.org/patientfocusedcertification/training/

2. Should any of these be designated to different agencies/departments?
New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Environment Department



SECTION 6: LICENSING–LIMITATIONS–MEDICAL CANNABIS GRANDFATHERED LICENSING
[2019 HB-356; pgs 19 - 21 Link to HB-356: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0356.pdf]

Any system of regulation should not be built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws and that is exactly what Section 6 does. It took Supreme Court Judge Thomson, when serving on the bench as a District Court Judge to order the Department of Health to raise the Licensed Producers Plant Count because the state has not been able to provide the patients of the medical cannabis program adequate supply of cannabis to use. For several years now the state’s medical cannabis program has failed to provide adequate supply and now state lawmakers want to take away even more of that cannabis supply from the medical program for a recreational law? There is no need to hijack and take away the current infrastructure from the current medical cannabis program, making medical cannabis producers dual licensed to be a recreational producer. It needs to be done separately.

The Colorado model is the best choice to follow for New Mexico, it has been the most successful.

The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. Safe Access New Mexico cautions policy makers against letting the debate surrounding the legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis. The bill drafters and these Legislators are using the state’s Medical Cannabis Program as a gateway to Recreational Cannabis Legalization for favoring the business profits and potential taxes over taking the path that will result in the greatest harm reduction that will better fulfill those social justice promises.

“Currently, licensed medical cannabis producers who also want to apply for a separate license under the adult recreational use program would have to maintain one-third of their inventory for medical cannabis.”

So ⅔ of all cannabis products for a dual licensed producers goes to recreational use and they are required to maintain ⅓ for medical cannabis patients and all licensed place must sell to the recreational person and the medical cannabis program patient or caregiver.

That is Less cannabis for the Medical Cannabis Patient and gives priority to the Recreational Consumer. [Day 4: “Legal pot or not? Protecting NM’s Medical Marijuana Industry”
https://www.abqjournal.com/1266098/legal-pot-or-not-protecting-nms-medical-marijuana-industry.html]

Dual licensure will also result in the state violating the medical cannabis program law as they would not be able to fulfill the Purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act; “Section 2. PURPOSE OF ACT.—The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.”

Nor would the state be able to maintain adequate supply when ⅔ of cannabis stock is dedicated for recreational purposes.

And just as Secretary of Health Kathyleen Kunkel told this Working Group about other states with medical cannabis programs and what happened to those programs after recreational cannabis legalization. ALL of those state medical cannabis programs have suffered, legalization has not benefited any state’s medical cannabis program to date.

Dual Licensure in this proposed format means the Governor would be breaking this promise, “As governor, I will work to legalize recreational cannabis in a way that protects medical cannabis patients’ access, prioritizes public safety, and generates state revenues.” https://twitter.com/Michelle4NM/status/1042575534490738689

The Dept. of Health also reported, in the fiscal impact report for HB-356, that other states have attempted to create this type of dual licensure system and it has ultimately led to shortages in product for medical cannabis as producers may forfeit their medical cannabis licenses for the profitable recreational licensure.

Just as Americans For Safe Access Policy Position says, recreational use and medical use only have the criminal justice system in common. [https://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_medical_marijuana_policy_position]

Issues such as access, police harassment, and the price and quality of medicine will still be relevant to the patient community despite the adoption of a policy of legalization for recreational use. The federal refusal to recognize the medical efficacy of cannabis causes more harm and difficulty for patients than any failure by local or state governments to adopt policies of legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Any system of regulation should not be built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws.

The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. We caution policy makers against letting the debate surrounding the legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to their medicine at schools before the state legalizes cannabis for other people to party with.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to medical cannabis in hospitals and medical facilities, like little kids going through the horrors of cancer treatment at UNM, before the state legalizes recreational cannabis use.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to medical cannabis in hospice care facilities and senior retirement communities before the state legalizes cannabis for other people to have fun with.

Our Military Veterans and First Responders deserve safe and equal access to medical cannabis before the state legalizes cannabis for other people to party with.

Any state educational institution of higher learning should have safe access to research medical cannabis and the state’s medical cannabis program before legalization ruins that potential research.

All doctors and prescribing medical professionals in the State of New Mexico should have safe access to recommend the use of medical cannabis to their patients or patient's caregiver with having to follow a “qualifying conditions list” before recreational cannabis legalization.

Form follows Function and Policy makers in New Mexico and the US for that matter- these Lawmakers need to stop using the debate surrounding the legalization of cannabis for recreational use to obscure the science and policy regarding the harm reduction achievements of decriminalizing cannabis and the medical use of cannabis.

In today’s era of how legalization, cannabis taxation and financial profits of cannabis has spread, the distinction matters and this behoves policy makers to follow a process that achieves the greatest harm reduction.

For the sake of integrity and compassion that is what should be done.



SECTION 9: PERSONAL PRODUCTION LICENSING
[2019 HB-356; pgs 26 - 29 Link to HB-356: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0356.pdf]

Regulation should be place with Dept. of Health, Agriculture Department, and Environment Department.

Nothing in the proposed recreational cannabis law should have any impact on the medical cannabis programs personal production license and its rules and regulations.

Patient Cultivation
Background: All state laws, with the exception of New Jersey’s, have recognized the need for patients to self-cultivate medical cannabis.

Findings: Because cannabis comes in literally thousands of different strains with very different effects on the body, it is important for patients to be able to determine which strains work best for their particular condition and to be allowed to cultivate those strains for consistency and quality. In addition, obtaining cannabis from the illicit market or through legal distribution centers can be prohibitively expensive for patients, whereas self-cultivation can significantly reduce that financial burden. Patients should not have to rely exclusively on a centralized production and distribution system, which often falls short in meeting their needs.

Position: Patients should have the right to grow their own medical cannabis in a variety of ways. Patient cultivation is necessary to ensure that patients have safe and affordable access to medical cannabis. [https://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_medical_marijuana_policy_position]

Not allowing a recreational consumer to have to right to choose in growing their own cannabis is not legalization. A right to be able to grow a minimum of 6 cannabis plants must be part of a proposed recreational cannabis law. A legalization bill without home grow is still fostering the stigmas of the failed War on Drugs.

The reality is that banning home growing for recreational cannabis will result in anybody and everybody deciding to grow despite the law. Banning home grow with legalization will enable a robust and very lucrative black market and that will easily undercut the legal market in prices, quality and quantity (see California).

These articles show how the black market largely comes from commercial operations and not from the consumer or patient:

“Oregon's black market now has plenty of cannabis for sale thanks to the extremely poor legalization policies there allowing dirty cannabis on the streets:
"His small grow-op had folded, in part due to a pesticide test, and the state demanded he destroy piles of his skunky-sweet leftovers.
Frustrated, he soon broke the law. When it came time to trash the rest of the crop, he logged into the state’s cannabis tracking software system and listed it as “destroyed.” But instead of actually tossing it, he handed some of it off to a friend, who converted it to THC known as “shatter” and sold it illegally out of state. "
It's that easy to fake a lab test or compliance report...
https://www.thedailybeast.com/oregons-ganja-glut-sends-pot-growers-to-black-market
And California:
1st year of recreational marijuana sales in California impacted by growing black market
https://abc7.com/business/1st-year-of-pot-sales-in-ca-impacted-by-growing-black-market/4977598/


The Colorado model should be followed for allowing home cultivation.



SECTION 33: CANNABIS WITHIN RESTRICTED AREA
[2019 HB-356; pg. 55 Link to HB-356: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0356.pdf]

Recreational cannabis should NOT be paired with gaming and gambling at New Mexico casinos or racinos, most of which are on Federal tribal land. Use on federal land is illegal: Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, you can’t use on federal land, including national parks and national forests.

“Think about a dispensary in a casino and how many people visit casinos, or at Balloon Fiesta time,” “I think it would impact it positively.”
Link: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/panel-discusses-impact-of-recreational-marijuana/5271583/?fbclid=IwAR2GqkFl4vfwQsnjLiI9HcC4gEc5ykm35OT7w0x3sbAWYp9m1jVSoz8Ci_I#.XIbMmEG9ziE.facebook

Article: Gaming and cannabis industries remain far apart in Nevada | Las Vegas Sun |May 30 2019 |
https://vegasinc.lasvegassun.com/business/gaming/2019/may/30/gambling-and-cannabis-industries-remain-far-apart/



SB-577 PROVISION: ESTABLISHING STATE-RUN STORES
[Link: https://marijuana.2020nm.com/sb577-state-stores/]

One reason State Run Stores are being suggested is because some New Mexico Legislators believe that State Run Stores regulate cannabis dosing and cannabis content better. This belief is completely false and there is not any scientific research or medical research suggesting that State Run Cannabis Stores can do that.

An economic system for recreational cannabis where the government owns most of the factors of sales, production and decides the allocation of resources and what products and services will be provided, also known as a command system or Communism.

Making the State of New Mexico the business owner and operator for all recreational cannabis stores in New Mexico would be a huge mistake and result in very little if any cannabis tourism for the state. In Washington, the city of North Bonneville has the only government owned recreational cannabis dispensary in the US, opened in 2015. Four years later, the city has yet to turn a profit and is still paying off debt from opening the government owned dispensary.

State run cannabis stores would result in complete breakdown and failure of the cannabis distribution supply chain and the proposed dual licensure would cause this to impact the medical cannabis program as well.

The Americans For Safe Access State of the State’s 2019 Report has an infographic on pages 45 and 46 showing how the distribution supply chain works effectively for medical cannabis (infographic images provided below). Both Utah and Louisiana had planned on using State Run Stores for medical cannabis distribution, the failure of the State Run Store system model exposed in the infographics below have both those states rethinking their distribution plans. [https://www.safeaccessnow.org/sos]

Recognition and Regulation of Distribution Centers
Background: Based on the positive impact of California’s distribution system, other medical cannabis states have decided to address this important issue of safe access. Some states like Maine, New Mexico and Rhode Island, preferred a state-regulated medical cannabis distribution system. While other states like California, Colorado, Michigan and Montana have preferred to regulate distribution at the local level. Regardless of the methodology, however, the trend is moving toward enhanced access to medical marijuana as a result of regulated distribution systems.

Findings: After conducting a study on the impact of local medical cannabis dispensary regulations in California, Americans for Safe Access found that reasonable regulations not only improve the lives of patients through increased access and availability, but that they also reduce crime and community complaints around those dispensaries. In many cases, dispensaries actually helped to revitalize struggling neighborhoods. On the other hand, unreasonable or onerous regulations can have the effect of cutting off access to medical cannabis and can act as de facto bans on distribution in communities that rely on such access.

Position: ASA supports the sensible regulation of dispensaries to the extent that such regulations recognize the legality of medical marijuana distribution and offer reasonable methods to comply with local and state laws.





The state run recreational cannabis stores in the Cannabis Regulation Act will not provide the economic windfall that its supporters claim, not with state-run cannabis stores.

New Mexico will not see any benefit in tourism as suggested when surrounding states with legalization offer privately owned stores, lower prices and a lower tax rate. And for some NM residents it will be easier and cheaper to still go to Colorado.



[ About Jason Barker: He is an advocate for Safe Access New Mexico, a Chapter of Americans For Safe Access; a freelance writer for Cannabis News Journal; and a medical cannabis patient in New Mexico.

The new health conditions added to the medical cannabis program 2018-2019, five (5) of those new ones are from the Petitions submitted to the Dept. of Health by Safe Access New Mexico.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Dec. 2018)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (June 2019
Three Degenerative Neurological Disorders: Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (June 2019)

Jason lives in Albuquerque with his dog, Tecumseh, who has a very severe case of canine structural epilepsy. Jason’s work has focused solely on medical cannabis issues, decriminalization of cannabis, hemp policy and does not work on legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes or other illicit drug issues.

*Mr. Barker is not paid or employed in the medical cannabis industry nor does he have any financial interest in the medical cannabis industry or recreational cannabis industry.]

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mayor Bowser Announces DC Will Now Accept Medical Cannabis Cards From Any State


(Washington, DC) – On Thursday August 8th 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Health, and the DC Mayor’s Office of Policy is announcing an expansion of the scope of its reciprocity rules for medical cannabis to all states that issue medical marijuana cards or other state documents. Non-residents needing their medication while they are visiting the District will be able to patronize the District’s regulated cannabis dispensaries and obtain their medication. It is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis, which remains federally prohibited.
“This emergency rulemaking is patient-centric,” said Mayor Bowser. “It ensures medical cannabis patients from other states can obtain their needed medicine. It will also promote public safety by allowing visitors to obtain their medicine at one of the District’s six – soon to be seven – authorized dispensaries rather than forcing them to go without or patronizing the illegal market.”
The rulemaking expands the number of states whose medical cards the District recognizes from 19 to at least 27 states. Recognition of other states’ cards is not dependent on whether those states recognize District of Columbia cards. Patients cannot compel their state to enact a regime that is the substantial equivalent of Washington, DC, but they still may need cannabis to address their medical needs.
New states added by today’s action are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are under review.
Cards from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington State are already recognized.

In May 2019, Mayor Bowser proposed the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 – legislation allowing for the sale of recreational cannabis in Washington, DC. The bill enhances public health and safety, provides clarity on the use of cannabis and cannabis products, and advances equity to ensure that the benefits of a cannabis regime go to DC’s most vulnerable communities through jobs and investments in housing. Learn more about the Safe Cannabis Act of 2019 here.

Thursday, August 8, 2019
Emergency rulemaking will allow non-District residents with medical marijuana cards to purchase medical marijuana during their visits to Washington, DC

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

ASA Unveils 2019 Report Cards for U.S. Medical Cannabis Programs



Washington, DC -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has released its 2019 report card titled, “2019 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States” in conjunction with the start of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The nearly 200-page report provides a detailed analysis of the state of medical cannabis programs in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories on a ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale. States were assessed in six categories: 1) Patient rights and civil protections; 2) Access to medicine; 3) Ease of navigation; 4) Functionality; 5) Consumer safety and provider requirements; and 6) Medical cannabis as a tool in combating the opioid epidemic.

“Thousands of lawmakers come to NCSL looking for policy ideas to bring back to their home state. By releasing our State of the States Report at the Legislative Summit, we are providing legislatures clear ways to improve access to medical cannabis in their state” said David Mangone, Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access. “Our report includes specific improvements for individual state medical cannabis programs like adopting product safety provisions as well as model legislation that suggests universal improvements for medical cannabis programs across the country. This report is a fantastic tool for lawmakers to serve medical cannabis patients in their jurisdictions.”

Illinois and Oregon received top marks for their medical cannabis programs, both receiving an A-. Meanwhile, every state that limits access to low-THC products or cannabidiol-only received a failing grade. Additionally, despite passing legislation for a comprehensive medical cannabis program, West Virginia also received a failing grade due to delays in implementation.

Findings of the report also show that medical cannabis access has improved significantly nationwide since California first passed Proposition 215 in 1996. Between the 2018 and 2019 state legislative sessions there were over 2,000 bills introduced across the country that dealt with creating or amending existing cannabis programs. While this flood of legislation is welcome progress, not all bills are created equal.

The State of the States Report also includes responses from a patient feedback survey of over 500 individuals. This survey revealed that even in states with adequate medical cannabis programs, affordability has been one of the most consistent critiques of patients and remains the single greatest challenge that patients face. While some states have worked to clarify the role of insurance and insurance companies when it comes to medical cannabis, no state has yet adopted a law that permits or requires insurance companies to cover the costs.

During the Legislative Summit, in which thousands of legislators are expected to attend, ASA will be handing out printed versions of the report to legislators as well as co-hosting two events in Nashville, TN to discuss the report. In addition, ASA will be exhibiting at the NCSL summit. ASA’s booth number is 1216. 

August 06, 2019 | Credit: Reenal Doshi


Sunday, July 28, 2019

So Tired of Still Fighting for Medical Cannabis Rights

So Tired of Still Fighting for Medical Cannabis Rights


It is now the year, 2019, and since the approval and implementation of the medical cannabis programs across the country, states have had to confront those seeking to profit from the commercial value of cannabis. This is happening instead of providing vulnerable medical patients, often with limited financial means, affordable medication to treat their conditions. Every year, patients are required to attempt to hold on to their initial rights along with hoping there are improvements of the programs based upon patient needs, rather than enhancing private profits or creating tax revenues for the states.

Like all states, many nights of long hours waiting to testify were behind the final approval of our program in Rhode Island thirteen years ago. At that time, the legislature showed compassion towards us and supported the program in the name of hoping to offer an alternative safe option to consider to help improve the quality of lives of many patients often suffering from lifelong afflictions. The question is why do we every year have to return to our statehouses to speak out in an effort to hold on to what we’ve already earned? Depending on the state, some patients have had to engage in a draining fight for any number of issues. To possess, grow, to be a caregiver, meet the qualifying condition list, the rising cost to run a compassion center which means higher cost to the consumer, the amount of medicine we are allowed to possess, fees for tags to grow, increased costs to register are some examples.

Ellen Lenox Smith

The answer is that the altruism of representatives, which was the driving force behind the establishment of the medical cannabis program, has been replaced by the drive for profit and expansion of tax revenue. As most states are attempting to improve their programs, unfortunately, it appears that the movement to expand the various programs has come to be dominated but individuals driven by commercialism, not compassion. The initial support and feeling of compassion are being replaced by those that see our medical issues as a way to make more money.

Seriously?

Those of us destined to confront serious and often chronic medical conditions on a daily basis already deal with having no access to medical coverage for cannabis and we also must confront the reality that the direction of these programs does not appear to be designed with the interests of patients in mind, as envisioned.

So, what to do?

How about this!

My Dream List:
  • Let doctors make the recommendation for possible use with their patient – stop all the inequitable qualifying conditions across the country
  • Get Cannabis out of Schedule I – allow research, use in hospitals, and giving comfort, confidence, legal support to the medical field and possible patients still leery due to the governments listing.
  • Allow all to make the choice to home grow or have a caregiver grow for them to stop others from making a profit off our medical issues along with the ability to have the strain compatible to our bodies in supply.
  • Make this medical use a required insurance coverage!
  • Stop trying to make a buck off of us and keep the cost down so people can afford to use it.
  • Stop the scare tactics, show compassion and allow those using for medical use treated with respect, not like drug addicts or illegal people using it.

All of us need to remember that state medical cannabis programs are there due to medical issues that are disrupting the normal flow of our lives. We have enough on our plate to then also have to worry if can afford our medication, find the strains compatible, continue to grow, travel to where we need to purchase, along with many other issues. To add having to continue advocating to hold on to our lifeline is just too much to keep taking on. So, let’s return to compassion, equality, and kindness of others to leave our programs alone, and not see this as a way to make a profit off our health and wellbeing.
“Issues such as access, police harassment, and the price and quality of medicine will still be relevant to the patient community despite the adoption of a policy of legalization for recreational use. The federal refusal to recognize the medical efficacy of cannabis causes more harm and difficulty for patients than any failure by local or state governments to adopt policies of legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Any system of regulation should not be built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws.
The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. We caution policy makers against letting the debate surrounding legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis.” - Americans For Safe Access

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!


Posted by National Pain Report on July 28, 2019 by Ellen Lenox Smith