Friday, February 8, 2019

Call To Action: The Cannabis Regulation Act (HB-356) Is Bad Policy For Medical Cannabis - It Is Bad Policy For New Mexico

The Cannabis Regulation Act, House Bill 356 , is Scheduled for the HOUSE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES Committee on Saturday, February 9th 2019 at 1:30 PM in the House Floor Chamber.

The Voice of the Medical Cannabis Community was NOT represented at that Legislative Policy Table for 2019. Good legislative and program policy is created when those who are most affected are at that table.

This will be the 8th year now that Drug Policy Alliance and Senator Ortiz y Pino have tried to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico. In the last 8 years, there has only been one attempt by legislators to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. After 8 years of trying and what’s expected to be another failing attempt at legalization; it’s time to include medical cannabis patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens at the policy table for writing of all cannabis legislation. Instead of meeting in secret, behind closed doors at the Roundhouse.

So if you are not talking with you elected officials about medical cannabis, then ask yourself, "Who is?

Please write a email and/or call your legislators and these committee members.

Speak up, tell your lawmakers and these committee members to Table the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB-356). The Legislature's priority should be on fixing the neglected medical cannabis program and protecting the program like Governor Lujan Grisham said.

House Health & Human Services Committee Members
Title                          Name                  House District              Party                     Role
Representative Deborah A. Armstrong          17                       D                          Chair
Email: Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4840

Representative Joanne J. Ferrary                    37                       D                          Vice Chair
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4438

Representative Gail Armstrong                      49                       R                           Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4242

Representative Karen C. Bash                        68                       D                           Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4210

Representative Zachary J. Cook                    56                        R                           Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4243

Representative William B. Pratt                    27                        D                           Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4248

Representative Gregg Schmedes                   22                        R                            Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4453

Representative Elizabeth "Liz" Thomson     24                        D                            Member
Email:   Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4425

There are plenty of reasons to Table the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB-356):

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 legislators 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 - that’s a bad policy approach.

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.

The Cannabis Regulation Act is bad policy for medical cannabis and is bad policy for New Mexico. The proposed legislation states (on Pg 20/21) that, all commercial cannabis licensees are required to sell to both medical cannabis patients and consumers. That same section also requires that 1/3 of cannabis stock is for medical patients and 2/3 of cannabis stock is for recreational. The recreational consumers would be given more stock of cannabis available to buy than the medical cannabis patient treating a debilitating health condition(s).

Everything proposed in the Cannabis Regulation Act can be achieved by passing cannabis decriminalization and by expanding our current Medical Cannabis Program.

Passing into law Senate Bill 323, Decrease Marijuana Penalties, introduced this year by Senator Cervantes, Senate Bill 204, Medical Marijuana in Schools, and passing into law Senate Bill 406, Medical Marijuana Changes, that supports the recommendations made by the Doctors on the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in 2017/18. Those proposed measures for the medical cannabis program would also generate additional revenue and create jobs for the State.

The legislators promoting and sponsoring the Cannabis Regulation Act did not even attended any Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Hearings in the last 2 years to hear what the Doctors think about medical cannabis.

Nor did Drug Policy Alliance or any Lawmakers even bother to ask any constituents or any medical cannabis patients for suggestions when writing HB-356.

Also consider that in other states with medical cannabis 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.

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

Just as Americans For Safe Access, the nation's largest medical cannabis organization, has always said, the legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a separate issue from safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. 

New Mexico lawmakers and Drug Policy Alliance are letting the debate surrounding legalization of cannabis for recreational use obscure the science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis.

If arrests for cannabis possession are a major social justice concern, the solution is decriminalizing possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering by passing Senate Bill 323, Decrease Marijuana Penalties, into law.

The focus should be on the medical cannabis program, education about cannabis, and protecting the program like Governor Lujan Grisham said.

That focus should include passing Senate Bill 204, Medical Marijuana in Schools legislation and ending the discrimination children have been facing for over a year. Along with passing a Senate Bill 406, that expands the medical cannabis program. A bill that will enable Veterinary medical cannabis, a bill with medical cannabis research at UNM and measures for the recognition of nonresident medical cannabis cards. These policy measures in legislation would allow for increased program participation and tourism in the state as people could come and enjoy events like Gathering of Nations or Balloon Fiesta.

Those proposed policy measures for the medical cannabis program would also generate additional revenue and jobs for the State. New Mexico needs to build a solid foundation first. Then start talking about Recreational Cannabis Use Legalization.

As a voter, you possess the most effective tool to influence change: your vote and your voice. As a constituent, you have the power to hold each representative accountable on the issues that affect you. But our democracy is not a spectator sport! If you want change, then you have to talk to the people elected to make our laws. As a medical cannabis advocate, it is important that you understand your power and know how to use it!

News Articles To Reference:
‘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

‘Will Recreational Use of Cannabis Impact Medical Use?’ | National Pain Report | 01.07.2019 | Link:

‘1st year of recreational marijuana sales in California impacted by growing black market’

‘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.

‘Oregon’s Ganja Glut Sends Pot Growers To Black Market’
“We oversaturated the market on every level." | Daily Beast | 01.05.19

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 (