Monday, May 7, 2018

The New Mexico Legislative Health and Human Services Committee and a Medical Cannabis Advisory SubCommittee




An interim committee is a legislative committee authorized to operate in the period between the adjournment of one legislature and the convening of another, or between
sessions of the same legislature. There are two types of interim committees in New
Mexico: those created by statute and those created by the legislative council. The Legislative Health and Human Services Committee (LHHS) and Subcommittees are interim committees.

The LHHS is a permanent joint committee of the legislature created pursuant to Section
2-13-1 NMSA 1978 and is responsible for studying the programs, agencies, policies and needs relating to health and human services, in addition to programs and services for children, families and the aging population. The Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee (DCS) is a permanent subcommittee of the LHHS, created pursuant to Section 2-13-3.1 NMSA 1978, and the Behavioral Health Subcommittee (BHS) was established by the New Mexico Legislative Council on June 5, 2017.

On Friday, May 4th 2018 the New Mexico Department of Health cancelled the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Hearing. Stating the following, "The Department of Health regrets to announce the cancellation of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board meeting scheduled for Friday, May 11 at the Harold Runnels Building Auditorium from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please see the Medical Cannabis 05/03 Memo of Cancellation of Advisory Board Meeting for more information."  

Memo of Cancellation of Advisory Board Meeting

During the 2018 Legislative Session the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act Patients Coalition of New Mexico wrote and advocated for a Memorial provided to the several New Mexico lawmakers. The Memorial was requesting these lawmakers to create an advisory SubCommittee to the LHHS, a Medical Cannabis Advisory SubCommittee.

This Memorial is one that is all inclusive for the entire Medical Cannabis Program and all of its Community, the Legislature and all their Constituents. The concept of this Memorial is Requesting the New Mexico Legislative Council and the LHHS to create a Medical Cannabis Program Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee to study Medical Cannabis and its Beneficial Uses and make recommendations for addressing theses benefits and expansion of the medical cannabis program to the Legislature in December 2018.

This is something we have not done in New Mexico for the Medical Cannabis Program in it's 10 year history. 



In 2017, the Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program Advisory Board held two hearings (April and November) about the medical cannabis program and we did not have any Legislators attend either one of these meeting- this brings all of process to the lawmakers were it should. Allowing the Doctors on the Medical Cannabis Advisory board to speak directly to the lawmakers, making it much easier process for all of the state’s lawmakers. 

And with the pending debate on legalization of cannabis for recreational use coming later in 2018 and into 2019, the information this subcommittee could provide to the LHHS will have many beneficial uses in protecting the medical cannabis program participants from those legalization policies that can result in isolation for medical cannabis patients. 

Form follows Function and Policy makers in New Mexico and the US for that matter- they need to stop using the debate surrounding 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. 

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act Patients Coalition of New Mexico contacted the following members of the Legislature on January 22nd 2018 requesting this Memorial for a Medical Cannabis SubCommittee to be presented; Representative D. Armstrong, Senator Moores, Representative Gentry, Senator Morales, Senator Ortiz y Pino, Senator McSorley, and Senator O'Neill all for consideration. 

Senator Moores responded promptly with support for this Memorial. Representative D. Armstrong, Representative Gentry, Senator Morales, Senator Ortiz y Pino, Senator McSorley, and Senator O'Neill did not respond at all. The Legislative Council Service respond via email saying, “I am putting this in my 2018 interim folder as a request from you, to share with the Chair and Vice-Chair.”

On January 31st 2018, LHHS Chairwoman Armstrong was kind enough to take time from her busy day in the legislature to meet and a copy of the Memorial for that subcommittee idea and concept was provided to her. The 55,000 Medical Cannabis Program participants and their families are in high hopes of seeing the cultivation of this Medical Cannabis Advisory SubCommittee. Every day the patient population grows in the medical cannabis program, but the program itself has not grown with the medical population in the State.

Safe Access to medical cannabis for those patients who do or will benefit most from medical cannabis treatments; still need to overcome political, social and legal barriers with advocacy by creating policies that improve safe access to medical cannabis for patients - and that means at school too.

In New Mexico families are unjustly being denied to allow their child to use medical cannabis while at school, we now have two parents fighting to change this. These two courageous mothers are fearlessly advocating for medical cannabis patients rights and safe access for the beneficial use of medical cannabis in schools, which is also the very fundamental basis for New Mexico’s medical cannabis law.
“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.”

These two children, other families and any student for that matter in our state’s medical cannabis program should be treated just like every other child who attends public schools in our state that uses medicine at school. The use of medical cannabis and safe access to it at school for these two students is a medical necessity.

“Medically Necessary” is defined as “health-care services or supplies needed to prevent, diagnose, or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease, or its symptoms and that meet accepted standards of medicine.” Medical necessity is a United States legal doctrine, related to activities which may be justified as reasonable, necessary, and/or appropriate, based on evidence-based clinical standards of care.


                                     

Lindsay and Paloma Credit: ABQ Journal                                                      Brick Family Credit:KOB4
‘In Albuquerque, parents of Paloma, age 4, was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome and takes doctor-recommended cannabis oil in the morning, at lunch and in the late afternoon to keep the chronic seizures under control. Despite having a medical cannabis card, State law prohibits medical cannabis on school grounds and on school buses and Albuquerque Public Schools cites the drug-free policy within APS.’
Link to Paloma’s Story: https://www.abqjournal.com/1164715/preschooler-who-needs-medical-cannabis-cant-take-it-on-campus.html

‘In Estancia, parents of a 10 year who also has his medical cannabis card for treatment of undifferentiated schizophrenia, PTSD and ADHD. His mom said she had to pull him out of school last fall when the administration told her she would no longer be able to administer his much-needed medication while on campus. In a letter, the superintendent points to a state law saying that, despite Anthony's medical card, cannabis is now allowed on school grounds.’ Link to Anthony’s Story: http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/mother-wants-access-to-medical-cannabis-in-the-classroom/4886110/

Currently there are six other states with comprehensive medical cannabis programs (New Jersey, Maine, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Illinois) that have successfully set forth Rules and Regulations for allowing school age children to have safe access to medical cannabis while attending public schools.

Schools already allow children to use all kinds of psychotropic medications—from Ritalin to opioid painkillers—when prescribed by a physician. But they tend to take a much harder stance on medical cannabis, even in the case of non-psychoactive medical cannabis CBD oils that are far more safer than psychotropic medications.

Today the New Mexico medical cannabis program has over 50,000 registered participants with 35 licensed (non-profit) producers growing 14,550 medical cannabis plants, as the program hits the midpoint of its 10th year. The Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) was created in 2007, as the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, under chapter 210 Senate Bill 523. The purpose of this 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.

The creation and implementation of a "medical cannabis program advisory subcommittee" to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee puts that state on a pathway to repair the 10 year old neglected medical cannabis program. 


Episode 1144 | The Line: Access To Medical Cannabis Prevented At School
Credit: New Mexico In Focus, a Production of KNME-TV
Published on May 4, 2018


Appendix A: Full Text of LHHS Subcommittee Memorial
A MEMORIAL

REQUESTING THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO CREATE AN MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE LEGISLATIVE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE TO STUDY MEDICAL CANNABIS AND IT’S BENEFICIAL USES AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDRESSING THESE BENEFITS AND EXPANSION OF THE MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM TO THE LEGISLATURE.



WHEREAS, Lynn Pierson, an Albuquerque cancer patient, advocated for the passage of a model medical cannabis program in New Mexico in 1978; and the New Mexico legislature passed the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act in 1978, establishing the Lynn Pierson therapeutic research program as a result of Lynn's advocacy efforts; and

WHEREAS, the Lynn Pierson therapeutic research program ended in 1986 because of lack of funding; and

WHEREAS, Erin Armstrong advocated tirelessly for the passage of New Mexico's current medical cannabis program law; and New Mexico's medical cannabis law took effect on July 1, 2007, after enactment of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act; and

WHEREAS, in January 2009, the department of health issued rules governing production, distribution and use of medicinal cannabis under state law; and

WHEREAS, more than fifty thousand (50,000) patients are currently protected to possess and use medical cannabis as medicine in New Mexico; and

WHEREAS, the department of health accepts applications for registry identification cards for possession and use of medical cannabis to persons with serious and debilitating medical conditions, there are currently 20 qualifying conditions eligible including; Cancer, Glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Spinal Cord Damage with Intractable Spasticity, HIV/AIDS, Painful peripheral neuropathy, Intractable nausea/vomiting, Severe anorexia/cachexia, Hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn's disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Severe Chronic Pain, Hospice Care, Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis, Cervical dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Ulcerative colitis; and

WHEREAS, any medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or nurse practitioner licensed to prescribe medicine in New Mexico is eligible to write a recommendation for qualified patients to register in the state's medical cannabis program; and

WHEREAS, New Mexico law enforcement agencies recognize that state law protects patients who have registered with the department of health for possession of medical marijuana in the medical cannabis program; and

WHEREAS, the states of New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maine have passed medical cannabis statutes modeled after the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act; and

WHEREAS, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act passed by the legislature has become the model legislation for the nation; and

WHEREAS, Ensuring safe and legal access to medical cannabis means: International, federal and state laws and regulations recognized cannabis as a legal medicine, Medical professionals recommend medical cannabis options as a frontline treatment option or an adjunct therapy, Patients and their caregivers have the information they need to make educated choices about medical cannabis therapies, Patients and medical professionals can incorporate a diverse group of products and delivery methods to create required personalized treatment regimen, Patients can trust labels on products and that medicines are free of pesticides and contaminants, Medical cannabis treatments are eventually covered by insurance; and

WHEREAS, cannabis (marijuana) has been used as a medicine for at least 5,000 years and can be effective for serious medical conditions for which conventional medications fail to provide relief; and
WHEREAS, modern medical research has shown that medical cannabis can slow the progression of such serious diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and stop HIV and cancer cells from spreading; has both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties; can alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy, PTSD and multiple sclerosis; is useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders; and can help reverse neurological damage from brain injuries and stroke; and
WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has acknowledged the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids, the primary active compounds found in cannabis, including as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, anticonvulsant and anti-spasmodic, and identified cannabinoids as beneficial in the treatment of asthma, glaucoma, and nausea and vomiting related to illnesses such as cancer and AIDS; and
WHEREAS, the American Medical Association has called for the review of the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance to allow for clinical research and the development of cannabinoid-based medicines; and
WHEREAS, the National Cancer Institute has concluded that cannabis has antiemetic effects and is beneficial for appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep among cancer patients; and
WHEREAS, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the American Herbal Products Association have developed qualitative standards for the use of medical cannabis as a botanical medicine; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court has long noted that states may operate as “laboratories of democracy” in the development of innovative public policies; and
WHEREAS, A total of twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical cannabis programs.; and
WHEREAS, seventeen additional states have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of therapeutic compounds extracted from the cannabis plant; and
WHEREAS, more than 17 years of state-level experimentation provides a guide for state and federal law and policy related to the medical use of cannabis; and
WHEREAS, accredited educational curricula concerning the medical use of cannabis have been established that meets Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements for practicing physicians; and
WHEREAS, Congress has prohibited the federal Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with and prosecute those acting in compliance with their state medical cannabis laws, and the Department of Justice has issued guidance to U.S. Attorneys indicating that enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act is not a priority when individual patients and their care providers are in compliance with state law, and that federal prosecutors should defer to state and local enforcement so long as a viable state regulatory scheme is in place;

WHEREAS, doctors on the Department of Health Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, in 2017 at two Advisory Board Hearings, issued a number of recommendations for addressing the beneficial use of medical cannabis to the Secretary of Health, including:

A. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following fourteen (14) health conditions be added into the medical cannabis program; ADD/ADHD, Autism (ASD), Anxiety, Degenerative Neurological Disorder, Depression, Dystonia, Eczema / Psoriasis, Migraine Headache, Muscular Dystrophy, Post-Concussion Syndrome & TBI, All Types Seizures (such as: psychogenic neurological disorders; Motor Disorders / Motor Development Disorders), Sleep Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorder(s) (and Opioid Use Disorder);

B. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following four (4) medical treatments be added into the medical cannabis program; Pediatric Oncology & Medical Cannabis Use for Antiemetic in State Hospitals, Change/increase possession limit to 16 oz for Patients, Removal of Potency Limit on THC Content for Concentrates, and Patient Run Collectives;

C. Advisory Board Doctors were denied by the Department of Health in Reviewing the following Nine (9) Medical Treatment Petitions in 2017 : (1)Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis Program Research & Education Established, (2)Medical Treatment; (3)ADA language for Section 8 of LECUA; (4)Medical cannabis registry, (5)Medical Treatment; (6)Medical Cannabis 3 yr registry identification cards, (7)Medical Treatment; Recognition of nonresident medical cards, (8)Medical Treatment; Adequate Supply: LNPP Plant Count Increase, (9)Medical Treatment; Increase Medical Cannabis Advisory Board membership;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES or SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the New Mexico legislative council be requested to create an "medical cannabis program advisory subcommittee" of the legislative health and human services committee to meet monthly during the 2018 interim to study the the benefits of the medical cannabis program and make recommendations for addressing the expansion of the medical cannabis program to the legislature by December 1, 2018; and The "medical cannabis program advisory subcommittee" shall:
A. review and recommend to the legislative health and human services committee for approval additional debilitating medical conditions that would benefit from the medical use of cannabis;
B. review to add medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for the medical use of cannabis;
C. attend and present committee findings at the twice per year Department of Health Advisory Boards Hearing on Medical Cannabis, which shall be maintained as confidential personal health information, to add medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for the medical use of cannabis;
D. issue recommendations concerning rules to be promulgated for the issuance of the registry identification cards; and
E. recommend quantities of cannabis that are necessary to constitute an adequate supply for qualified patients and primary caregivers for the medical cannabis program.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Mexico legislative council be requested to charge the chair of the legislative health and human services committee with convening and chairing the medical cannabis program advisory subcommittee and with appointing to the subcommittee:

The Eight members of the current New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, who are to be practitioners and representing the fields of neurology, pain management, medical oncology, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine and gynecology. The practitioners shall be nationally board-certified in their area of specialty and knowledgeable about the medical use of cannabis. In Additional members of the medical cannabis program advisory subcommittee shall consist of; at least one person who is from the University of New Mexico Medical Cannabis Research Fund, at least two members of the House of Representatives, one each from the majority party and the minority party; at least two Senators, one each from the majority party and the minority party; and a member of the legislative finance committee staff; and one member who is a representative of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture; one member who is a representative of the New Mexico State Pharmacy Board; one member who is a representative of the New Mexico Department of Health, at least two persons who possesses a qualifying patient's registry identification card; at least one person who is an officer, board member, or other responsible party for a licensed medical cannabis dispensing facility; at least one medical professional who is a medical cannabis provider, and at least one qualifying patient who is either a Armed Forces Veteran or prior Law Enforcement/Fire/EMT Veteran status.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the Governor's Office, Secretary of Health, Manager of the medical cannabis program at the department of health, Medical Director of the medical cannabis program at the department of health, the chair and vice chair of the legislative health and human services committee; the executive director of the board of pharmacy; the executive director of the New Mexico medical board

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