Saturday, January 26, 2019

10 Ways The Cannabis Regulation Act Will Cause Harm To The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program



The Legislators in New Mexico's Roundhouse have $1.2 billion coming in for the new budget year, so there is absolutely no need to fast track recreational cannabis legalization in New Mexico for 2019 the way they are doing so.

First and Foremost these state legislators MUST keep all Medical Cannabis Policy and Recreational Cannabis Policy separate in ALL Legislation.

The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. Cannabis News Journal and Safe Access New Mexico joins Americans For Safe Access in cautioning policy makers against letting the debate surrounding legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis. They are two separate issues.

Not one of these current legislators, Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Representative Javier Martínez, Representative Antonio Maestas, Representative Daymon Ely, Representative Deborah A. Armstrong, or Representative Angelica Rubio, that are pushing for the 2019 recreational cannabis legalization bill (HB-356) have even taken the time, in the last two years, to attend any of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Hearings conducted by Doctors and the Department of Health, which address the issues going on in the New Mexico medical cannabis program. 

Why would state legislators not want to hear what the doctors, the medical experts have to say about cannabis and the state’s medical cannabis program?

That fact is very concerning.

And also consider this, in 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.

Cannabis News Journal and Safe Access New Mexico, the state's only Patient Focused Medical Cannabis Advocacy group, does not support the recreational legalization bill these state legislators and Drug Policy Alliance have planned for the 2019 legislative session as it will cause great harm to the current medical cannabis program. We focus solely on medical cannabis issues, protecting medical cannabis patient rights and do not work on legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes or other illicit drug issues.



In 2019 during the Legislative 60 day Regular Session Please : Pass a bill to Fix & Expand the states Neglected & Broken Medical Cannabis Program, Pass a bill Allowing Safe Access to Medical Cannabis at Schools, Enable Veterinary Doctors access to the Medical Cannabis Program, Pass Decriminalization of Cannabis for the State, Pass Medical Cannabis Research for UNM and get the Industrial Hemp program going with medical hemp research at NMSU for the states medical cannabis program.

These proposed measures will also generate additional revenue and jobs for the State.
Build a solid foundation first.
Then start talking about Recreational Cannabis Use Legalization.

If arrests for cannabis possession are a major racial justice concern, the solution is decriminalizing possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering.
But some policy groups pushing for recreational legalization don’t view decriminalization as an acceptable compromise. They want full legalization, making cannabis a state-regulated and -taxed drug like alcohol so that businesses can sell and profit from.

Everything proposed in the Cannabis Regulation Act can be achieved by passing Senator Cervantes’s Cannabis Decriminalization bill SB-323 in conjunction with Legislation for expanding the current medical cannabis program.

The State can and should allow the Department of Health and Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to open up and start accepting new producer applications in addition to reducing the current and new licensing fees. There is already going to be a increase in plants grown, as now Supreme Court Judge Thomson, when serving on the bench as a District Court Judge has already order the Department of Health to raise the Licensed Producers Plant Count by March 1st 2019.

In conjunction with the opening the program up to allow for more participants statewide by allowing their Doctor or medical provider to decide if the qualify and not lawmakers in Santa Fe; current LECUA law states the following:

“Section 3. DEFINITIONS.–As used in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act:
B. “debilitating medical condition” means: (1) cancer; (2) glaucoma; (3) multiple sclerosis; (4) damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; (5) epilepsy; (6) positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; (7) admitted into hospice care in accordance with rules promulgated by the department; or (8) any other medical condition, medical treatment or disease as approved by the department; ”
WhereAs (Section 8) [the Law could state the following] “ or (8) any other medical condition, medical treatment or any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health.”

That would provide the greatest harm reduction across the state along with improving the overall health of the State.

And finally, Reciprocity -Recognition of nonresident medical cannabis cards, this would allow for increased tourism in the state as people could come and enjoy events like Gathering of Nations or Balloon Fiesta.

Senator Ortiz y Pino and Rep. Deb Armstrong were asked to Sponsor legislation that could do this for the last two years, those patient pleas were ignored.
Proposed 2019 NM Legislation: An Act Relating to Amending LECUA, 2007
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/p/proposed-2019-nm-legislation-act.html


10 Ways The Cannabis Regulation Act Will Cause Harm To The Medical Cannabis Program:
  1. We have kids facing discrimination at the hands of public school administrators in New Mexico because they are medical cannabis patients using a life saving medicine and Rep. Javier Martinez and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino are prioritizing Recreational Cannabis policy and mixing it with the State’s Medical Cannabis Program...kinda highlights why we as a state need to reform the dysfunctional legislature. Kids that are being discriminated against take a back seat to recreational cannabis legalization. How sad…
  2. The absence of proper medical cannabis patient advocacy representation in the writing and policy advisement for the Cannabis Regulation Act. Medical Cannabis Patients, Caregivers, Advocates and Experts in medical cannabis policy were not consulted or given any voice but we were all ignored. All the while lawmakers and Drug Policy Alliance met in back rooms at the roundhouse behind closed doors in secrecy to write this legislation. 
  3. These state legislators MUST keep all Medical Cannabis Policy and Recreational Cannabis Policy separate in ALL Legislation- 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 legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis. Drug Policy Alliance 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. 
  4. The Cannabis Regulation Act does nothing to Expand, Fix, or Protect the current Medical Cannabis Program. The proposed legislation legalizing recreational use of cannabis would prohibit anyone from making medicine, like medical cannabis oils without a license. New Mexico’s medical cannabis program also allows people to grow their own; more than 7,000 people have licenses to grow 4 mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings. The proposed bill only allows a total of 12 cannabis plants and you are required to pay for a license and those fees are not yet determined.
  5. “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)
  6. The Proposed Recreational Cannabis bill ignores the purpose of the Doctors on the states medical cannabis advisory board for the "cannabis control division" is created in the regulation and licensing department - essential killing the the states medical cannabis advisory board. This "cannabis control division" may be a need for Recreational Cannabis but the Medical Cannabis Program does not need to be any part of it. 
  7. If arrests for cannabis possession are a major social justice concern, the solution is decriminalizing possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering. But some policy groups pushing for recreational legalization don’t view decriminalization as an acceptable compromise. They want full legalization, making cannabis a state-regulated and -taxed drug like alcohol so that businesses can sell and profit and will do so even if it hurt the medical cannabis patient..The absence of proper patient representation and patient voices continues to be silenced in the debate for recreational cannabis. Legalization should be about Freedom and Good Health, not about how much we can tax a plant that has great Medical Value that equates to harm reduction.
  8. Opting in or out: Drug Policy Alliance used this same policy in California for recreational cannabis legalization and now almost 75% of cities and counties ban its sale; there 25% less products available than before under medical only, access is now more difficult in rural areas of the state.  While the majority of California voters supported Prop 64, the majority of cities and counties have yet to issue, or refuse to issue, licenses to cannabis businesses operating within their jurisdiction. The city of Denver (CO) has more cannabis licenses than the state of California. Take for example Washington state, before legalization was passed, there was close to 1500 Collectives which served as access points for medical cannabis. Once the Washington state legalization law was passed and the medical cannabis program merged with it, those access points for medical cannabis where cut down to less than 300. The Legislature’s own Legislative Council Service even points out that : “Drug Policy Alliance as a organization has taken a strong stand in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in New Mexico, so cannot be considered an unbiased source of information.” Stated in the Fiscal Impact Report for SM-105 by LCS (https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/18%20Regular/firs/SM105.PDF)
  9. “Marijuana has to be tested at state-approved laboratories for potency and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.” *The state of New Mexico does not have enough labs to test all the cannabis in a dual recreational and medical cannabis market, there are three testing labs approved by the Department of Health and one of the three labs is closing - leaving the state with only two test labs. Further the state is not even testing medical cannabis products as they should be as the State of New Mexico purchased equipment to enforce laboratory required testing in 2015. “To our knowledge, the State has not used this equipment to confirm the accuracy of tests of any products on the dispensary shelves.” And this was provided to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in October 2017 by Steep Hill Labs and the same legislators sponsoring this bill ignored these facts (https://www.nmlegis.gov/committee/Handouts?CommitteeCode=LHHS&Date=10/16/2017&ItemNumber=9)
  10. "Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said legalization supporters in New Mexico have agreed to a blood THC level of impairment of 5 nanograms per milliliter – the standard adopted by several states as presumptive evidence of drugged driving”, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal about the legalization bill and then the same article now says, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that marijuana legalization supporters in New Mexico had agreed to a blood THC level of impairment. It has been corrected below.” (https://www.abqjournal.com/1265654/nm-struggles-to-keep-drunken-drivers-off-the-road-ndash-how-will-it-deal-with-drugged-drivers.html)                                                              Either the way the damage of that quote has been done and now we have a DUI bill to deal with and it has what DPA said as reported by the ABQ Journal to: "for the active compound in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, five nanograms per milliliter of blood;” (https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/bills/house/HB0317.pdf)


Throughout the course of the Martinez administration, the former Governor had a ‘do nothing’ approach to the state’s medical cannabis program which in itself has been very destructive to it over the years. As the program grew in size with more and more people using medical cannabis nothing has been done to all for the a fundamental aspect of the law to maintain itself - “adequate supply”. The Lynn & Erin Compassionate Use Act and all the New Mexicans who depend on the medicine it provides, have been severely neglected by the state over the last several years. The medical cannabis program has over 70,000 New Mexicans in it and the program producers grow 14,500 cannabis plants thus there is less than one third of a plant per person in the program which is not “Adequate Supply”.

Today the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has over 70,000 registered participants with over 75 dispensaries operated by 35 licensed non-profit producers (LNPP’s) now growing 14,550 cannabis plants. The Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) was created in 2007, as the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, under chapter 210 Senate Bill 523. 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…the first 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.”

In 2019 during the Legislative 60 day Regular Session Please : Pass a bill to Fix & Expand the states Neglected Medical Cannabis Program, Pass a bill Allowing Safe Access to Medical Cannabis at Schools, Enable Veterinary Doctors access to the Medical Cannabis Program, Pass Decriminalization of Cannabis for the State, Pass Medical Cannabis Research for UNM and get the Industrial Hemp program going with medical hemp research at NMSU for the states medical cannabis program.

The voice of the People should Always come first over party politics and political party platforms.


Form follows Function and Policy makers in New Mexico 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.

Please Find your New Mexico State Legislator and Please tell them to Protect Medical Cannabis Patient Rights by Voting NO for on the Cannabis Regulation Act of 2019.
https://www.nmlegis.gov/Members/Find_My_Legislator



Resources for Policy Makers, Medical Professionals & Researchers:
Utilizing Americans For Safe Access (ASA) 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

Resources and Sources:
‘Legal marijuana made big promises on racial equity — and fell short’
“Time is really up on selling your business dream as a social justice movement,” said the president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. | NBC News | Dec. 31, 2018
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/legal-marijuana-made-big-promises-racial-equity-fell-short-n952376?fbclid=IwAR07CnKugw7D0w9nsVD9FGNIOoIffg4RDSMSkCPGrkI-Ew9KSSz3TK3JqB0

‘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

‘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/

‘Black Market Marijuana Is a Big Problem, and This New Survey Proves It’
California's cannabis market is leading by example. However, it's not a good example.
https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/09/16/black-market-marijuana-is-a-big-problem-and-this-n.aspx

‘Oregon’s Ganja Glut Sends Pot Growers To Black Market’
“We oversaturated the market on every level." | Daily Beast | 01.05.19 https://www.thedailybeast.com/oregons-ganja-glut-sends-pot-growers-to-black-market

1 comment: