Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Any Health Condition Opioids Are Prescribed For Are Already Part Of New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program

Right now children who are medical cannabis patients are being discriminated against by the New Mexico Public School System, Period.

Since yesterday’s State of the State address, all we have heard about on the news and in the newspapers is how the Democratically controlled legislature wants Recreational Cannabis Use Legalization to be a priority in the Legislative Session and our new Governor wanting to add a health condition into the medical cannabis program, Opioid Use Disorder, that is already being treated in the medical cannabis program (MCP). Any health condition a doctor would prescribe opioids for are already part of New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program.[6,7,11]

If Governor Lujan Grisham had talked to any of the Doctors on the State’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, then the Governor would understand this and the same would be true if Governor Lujan Grisham attended any of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Hearings she was invited to attend while campaigning to be our Governor. Prior to the Advisory Board Hearings, Mr. Victor Reyes was contacted for those invites and acknowledged the invitations, he is now part of the Legislative Policy team in the Governor's Office.

“Opioid addiction is an epidemic that is tearing New Mexico families apart. As my third Leadership in Action Initiative, I will immediately direct the Department of Health to add opioid addiction as a condition to qualify for medical cannabis treatment.” [1]


The key word in the Governor’s statement is "Addiction", and that is what is really being treated if this is added, not opioid misuse or abuse. Our state's medical cannabis program already covers all health conditions that opioids are prescribed for.[6,7,11]

As many do not realize, the Chronic Pain health condition is a ‘umbrella term’ covering well over 200 different health conditions that do qualify for enrollment into the medical cannabis program.
“In most cases, the board said, patients who suffer from the rejected conditions are already able to be certified to use cannabis under an existing qualifying condition — such as chronic pain…”[6,7] Medical Cannabis Program Director, Kenny Vigil even points out that, “In five years, no patient has been denied a card.”[8]


Adding Opioid Use Disorder will only allow limit safe access to treatment while ignoring the true addiction problem and other addicts entirely, ignoring those who deal with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), Tobacco Use Disorder, Stimulant Use Disorder, or Hallucinogen Use Disorder - that is not the true approach to harm reduction.

According to the Mayo Clinic and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the known risk factors of opioid misuse and addiction include: Family history of substance abuse, Personal history of substance abuse, Heavy tobacco use, and Heavy alcohol use. The key word in the Governor’s statement is "Addiction", and that is what is really being treated.

The inclusion of a new medical condition into the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program should be, Substance Abuse Disorder. When Doctors on the State’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board considered and voted on both petitions to add Opioid Use Disorder and Substance Abuse Disorder into the program, they said that “addiction” is being treated by both Petitions and that it makes most sense to add Substance Abuse into the State’s Medical Cannabis Program. 
We should be Ending Pain Not Lives in New Mexico and that is done by adding Substance Abuse Disorder[2] into the Medical Cannabis Program.

Governor Lujan Grisham should be listening to these medical experts and the policy experts at Americans For Safe Access.

Additionally, before any new health condition(s) are added into the MCP that would lead to a rapid increase of new patients, "adequate supply" needs to be addressed and fixed. As of right now there is less than 1/3 of a cannabis plant available per patient as medicine. State District Judge David Thomson in Santa Fe, already issued a court ruling telling the State this must be done and the State has yet to follow the Judge’s orders.[10]

The state must increase the plant count before a health condition is added that would cause a rapid increase in program participants otherwise there be a shortage in medicine available.

It makes absolutely no sense to add a new health condition involving addiction, if there is any chance that program participants may end up going to the black market for cannabis since the State isn’t following the Purpose of its own medical cannabis law.

Governor Lujan Grisham should be first and foremost be talking about fixing the medical cannabis program to allow Safe Access to Medical Cannabis at Schools and end the discrimination there.


“Lujan Grisham said she supports the medicine on school grounds as long as safety and administrative standards are established.
“For many students their ability to use medical cannabis on school grounds is the difference between being able to attend public school or not,” she wrote to the Journal.”[3]

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.
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.

In the recent Albuquerque Journal 5 Part Article Series, “Legal Pot or Not?”, Duke Rodriguez the owner of the state licensed medical cannabis dispensary, Ultra Health, says this in the Day 4 article about our newly elected Governor; “Generally, opponents of adult use will cry that the medical cannabis programs will be harmed,” Rodriguez said. “The reality is that states with mature medical cannabis systems have rolled out adult use programs without harming the medical program.”[4]

In response to this quote by Governor Lujan Grisham; “Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she supports legalized recreational marijuana – with important caveats.
She said on the campaign trail and in a statement to the Journal that any legislation reaching her desk would have to “protect medical cannabis patients, improve public safety, deal with prevention of underage use and workplace impairment, boost state revenues, and allow for New Mexico businesses to grow into this new market during an effective transition period.”[5]

Legislators in the Roundhouse are projected to 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.

First and Foremost these lawmakers MUST keep Medical and Recreational 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. 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.

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.”

The Governor’s Office can end this discrimination today, that these kids are facing at the hands of New Mexico Public School Administrators with a Executive Order. As requested in the Governor’s first week in Office by Safe Access New Mexico and Ms. Brick, a parent of one of theses students being discriminated against. It’s just like Governor Lujan Grisham said about New Mexico state government in her first inaugural address on January 1st 2019; “There is no more time to lose.” and that “We will do things the right way again”. 

Image result for tisha brick kob
Lindsay and Paloma Credit: ABQ Journal Tisha and Anthony Credit: KOB 4

The Governor’s Office has yet to respond to Ms. Brick or Safe Access New Mexico and these kids are losing time, time they will not get back, while waiting for the “right way” to happen. 

California, New York, Virginia and Washington all have joined New Mexico in having active 2019 Legislation for Allowing Safe Access to Medical Cannabis in School.

Currently there are seven other states and one capital city with comprehensive medical cannabis programs: Oklahoma City and these states; New Jersey, Maine, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida,  Illinois. All have successfully set forth rules and regulations for allowing safe access to medical cannabis while attending public schools. 
No school or school district in the US has ever lost any federal funding for allowing safe access to medical cannabis at school, nor has there been any problems.

New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program Qualifying Health Condition List(22):
  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  2. Cancer (specify type in clinical notes)
  3. Crohn’s Disease
  4. Epilepsy/Seizure Disorders
  5. Glaucoma
  6. HCV infection and receiving antiviral treatment currently (proof of antiviral treatment in clinical notes)
  8. Huntington’s Disease
  9. Hospice Care
  10. Inclusion Body Myositis
  11. Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis
  12. Intractable Nausea/Vomiting
  13. Multiple Sclerosis
  14. Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord (provide proof of objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity in clinical notes)
  15. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  16. Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
  17. Parkinson’s Disease
  18. Post‐Traumatic Stress Disorder
  19. Severe Chronic Pain
  20. Severe Anorexia/Cachexia
  21. Spasmodic Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia)
  22. Ulcerative Colitis

ASA’s Resources for Regulators, Policy Makers, Medical Professionals & Researchers:Medical Professionals /Researchers
Policy Makers / Regulators