Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why Do States Make Patients Renew Medical Cannabis Cards Yearly?

Registry Identification Cards And 3 Year Renewals
The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program is available to any New Mexico resident with certain medical conditions. A Primary Caregiver may be designated by the Qualified Patient to take responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualified patient in the use of medical cannabis. A qualified patient may also obtain a Personal Production License (PPL) to grow medical cannabis for personal use.
If you believe your debilitating medical condition(s) qualify for the medical cannabis program, discuss your symptoms with your licensed physician.  A doctor has to recommend you to receive medical cannabis as treatment, so the doctor is not prescribing medical cannabis. And this should allow for any licensed physician or nurse practitioner, in New Mexico, to sign for your enrollment.  You must submit an application to New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program administrator’s office along with all required forms.
Due to the qualifying conditions requirement into the medical cannabis program, the types of debilitating medical conditions that are part of the MCP, the nature of these debilitating medical conditions that qualify (and many others); it only makes sense from a medical standpoint to certify patients for a 3 year period in the medical cannabis program. The qualifying health conditions for the program are all ones that modern pharmaceutical pills failed to cure, provide relief and in many case made the conditions worse. That is why we are in the medical cannabis program as this form of medicine provides us the best option for for treatment in improving our health.
What is a chronic medical condition?
A chronic disease is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear.
What is the meaning of debilitating?
Something that's debilitating seriously affects someone or something's strength or ability to carry on with regular activities, like a debilitating illness. Debilitating comes from the Latin word debilis, meaning "weak." That's why you'll often see the adjective used to describe illness, despite the negative reference.
Facts About The Medical Conditions That Qualify For The Medical Cannabis Program.
Patients in New Mexico diagnosed with one or more of the following medical conditions qualify into the program and are allowed legal protection under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) : Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Cancer : Chronic disease, can be treated, & average treatment plan length 5 years or more.
Crohn’s Disease : Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: Lasting several years or lifelong.
Epilepsy : Is a chronic neurological disorder. Can't be cured, but treatment does help.
Glaucoma : Chronic, can't be cured, but treatment does help.  ( Can braille cards be printed ? )
Hepatitis C : Chronic, but treatment does help.
HIV/AIDS : Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Huntington’s Disease : Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Hospice Care :Palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient's pain and symptoms.
Inclusion Body Myositis : Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Inflammatory Autoimmune-mediated Arthritis Can't be cured, treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Multiple Sclerosis Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord :No cure, treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Painful peripheral neuropathy :Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Parkinson’s disease :Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) :Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Severe Chronic Pain :Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Severe Anorexia/Cachexia :Often a sign of disease, such as cancer, AIDS, heart failure, or advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic but treatment does help.
Spasmodic Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia) :Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
Ulcerative Colitis: Can't be cured, but treatment does help. Chronic: lifelong.
All of these types of debilitating medical conditions have some common medical facts; treatment plan for 5 years if not lifelong, most all have no cure, all of them are chronic health conditions, and sadly some take a person’s life. They all also require a medical treatment plan with several visits to more than one medical practitioner throughout the course of a year.  
Patients, like myself, and all patients are currently required to renew their cards every year despite all of patients in the program having serious debilitating medical conditions that are chronic and will never go away. Nor do we need a yearly reminder of our health problems...once a patient is accepted into the program the registry and identification cards should be set at a 3 yr renewal basis and expire 3 years from entry into the program.
The Department can then do yearly address verification with a simple form, by mail, all while maintaining safe access to medical cannabis for patients in the program. The current “change of address” form used by the Department of Health could also be used here. Setting the registry for the program at 3 years will save the Department of Health money by reducing employee hours spent on this process yearly, reduced cost in printing, and office supplies cost. This will also strengthen the medical cannabis program by knowing patient registration numbers and additional statistics for 3 year periods.
For the patients with a personal production license, they could submit annually to the department a statement or form for address verification and to provide that nothing has changed from the initial PPL application that was approved.
The physician or practitioner that you receive your recommendation from should be a practiced, and licensed with medical and research experience (preferably cannabis related). While these doctors cannot “prescribe” cannabis, they can “certify” or “recommend” patients use medical cannabis that meets the criteria to be a qualifying patient.
Although it is easy to walk into a green, 4:20 themed “clinic” and pay a cheap price for a evaluation, there are some factors you should consider before doing so. If you are a patient looking to get the maximum benefit from cannabis as a medicine, the relationship between yourself and your medical cannabis doctor should be respected as much as in any other medical circumstance. For this reason, Americans For Safe Access advise staying away from these types of places many call, “bargain clinics.”  Make sure there are no extra fees associated with obtaining ID cards, or extra copies of the letter of recommendation. Patients should protect themselves from clinics that treat them “strictly as a business.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on February 13th (2017) that the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program has grown dramatically from 9,000 patients in 2013 to more than 33,000 today. The Department of Health estimates approximately 500 to 800 new patients join the program weekly. The tremendous growth of the Medical Cannabis Program with new program participants, an increase of 75% during 2016, so that currently means we have almost 45,000 patients benefiting from medical cannabis. The medical cannabis program office is currently processing applications in a 12-14 day range and recommends submitting renewal and new patient applications a minimum of 60 days prior to expiration to allow ample time for processing.

The Department of Health should certify patients under presumptive eligibility and set the registry for the program at 3 years for every patient. This will benefit both the patients, whom the program was created for, and benefit the Department of Health in a state that is looking for ways to save money.  
Senate Bill 177, “Medical Marijuana Changes, proposed making it so if the patient’s debilitating condition is considered chronic, then reapplication would be required no sooner than three years from the date of issuance. However, if the condition is not chronic, reapplication would be no sooner than three years but the patient would be required to submit a statement from a practitioner annually. The 3 year card renewal was also amended out late as a floor amendment.

It was changed to be a written attestation, thus "written attestation" means a written statement from a qualified patient that: (1) states that the qualified patient has been diagnosed by a practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition; (2) states that the qualified patient continues to receive care from a practitioner for the debilitating medical condition in accordance with a schedule determined by that Practitioner; (3) states that the qualified patient's practitioner has indicated that the practitioner believes that the potential health benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient; and (4) provides the name, telephone number and address for the qualified patient's practitioner; and
"SECTION 5. A new section of the Lynn and Erin CompassionateUse Act is enacted to read:[NEW MATERIAL] REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARD--RENEWAL.--A qualified patient shall renew the qualified patient's and that qualified patient's primary caregiver's registry identification cards on an annual basis by submitting to the department a written attestation."

Senate Bill 177 has been sent to the House Health & Human Services Committee -Waiting to be scheduled. Call and email your House of Representative member in your district and call the Roundhouse for your voice to be heard. House of Representatives main phone number 505-986-4751 and general email:  Ask for presumptive eligibility and setting the registry for the program at 3 years for every patient to be added back into SB-177.

If your debilitating medical condition is not on the list of qualifying conditions, you are strongly encouraged to petition the Medical Advisory Board with a request to add a new condition not currently on the list of qualifying conditions. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board convenes at least twice each calendar year to conduct public meetings and is made up of eight board certified practitioners.  The board is responsible for reviewing and recommending to the department additional conditions that would benefit from the medical use of cannabis, accepting and reviewing petitions to add medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for the use of medical cannabis; recommending quantities of cannabis necessary to constitute an adequate supply, and issuing recommendations concerning rules to be promulgated for the issuance of registry identification cards.

By Jason Barker - Organizer & Medical Cannabis Patient
LECUA Patient’s Coalition Of New Mexico