Sunday, February 10, 2019

Misguided Priorities Advance Recreational Cannabis Legislation in New Mexico's Roundhouse

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All of the sudden for 2019 in New Mexico the failed War on Drugs and Social Injustices are major concerns for New Mexico Legislators, a concern for all who are Sponsoring Recreational Cannabis Legalization.

Why is it these same lawmakers wait until 2019 to now speak out about these major concerns they all have with the Drug War?

None of them spoke out last year for the rights of medical cannabis patients or social justice issues with the criminalization of cannabis. Nor did any of these lawmakers speak out about that in 2017 or 2016. Why is that?

Why have these same lawmakers not spoken up and defended the rights of medical cannabis patients in their home districts and all the injustices we as patients have dealt with over the years in New Mexico?

What these lawmakers are doing are using the people caught up in the failed War on Drugs and using people who rely on medical cannabis - using those Social Justice Issues to advance their own personal political party agenda for taxation of Recreational Cannabis Use. 

All with the guidance of Drug Policy Alliance and the support of the ACLU of New Mexico. Both organizations also enjoy funding from the same source, the George Soros Foundation. And that foundation was also active in making political campaign contributions to Democrats and their party in New Mexico during the last election during 2018.

Democratic Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque

Representative Javier Martinez, an Albuquerque Democrat

Representative Deborah A. Armstrong , an Albuquerque Democrat

Democratic Representative Daymon Ely of Bernalillo & Sandoval

Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, a Democrat from Albuquerque

Representative Angelica Rubio, a Las Cruces Democrat

None of the above sponsors for the Cannabis Regulation Act have ever provided any legislative action, in the past years, to do anything for the rights of any cannabis user, medical or not. 

No articles in the Albuquerque Journal or Santa Fe New Mexican, no appearances on any TV News or news radio speaking out for medical cannabis patient rights or the unjust criminalization of cannabis and how that affects people of color. Nothing ever done but now in 2019, it’s so important to all of them.

They are using all the people caught up in the Drug War for their own political gain.

The only cannabis related legislation to pass into law in New Mexico, since the passage of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (Medical Cannabis Program) was legislation in 2018 for GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex, by Rep. Deb Armstrong.

At the end of the first Committee hearing for the Cannabis Regulation Act on Saturday, Representative Deb Armstrong suggested to the bills Sponsors to combine HB-356 with Senate Bill 406, Medical Marijuana Changes legislation.

Hearing that suggestion from Rep. Deb Armstrong shows how little she knows and understands about the medical cannabis program that bears her own daughters name. Of course Rep. Deb Armstrong always mentions her connection to the medical cannabis program, but has never done anything for the program in legislation or attended the state meetings for the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board at the Department of Health.

First and Foremost our state legislators should be keeping all Medical Cannabis Policy and Recreational Cannabis Policy separate in all Legislation. The fact that this is not understood by these policy makers shows how poorly written the Cannabis Regulation Act is. 

Even all the members of the public who spoke in favor of the Cannabis Regulation Act, spend most of their public comment time discussing the concerns they had with the bill and how it was written. 
The public comment is right at the start of the committee hearing video: http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00293/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20190210/-1/62074

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.

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.

None of the legislators promoting and sponsoring the Cannabis Regulation Act have attended any Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Hearings in the last 2 years to hear what the Doctors think about medical cannabis or to hear the concerns of the medical cannabis patient community. Nor did Drug Policy Alliance or any lawmakers even bother to ask any constituents or any medical cannabis patients for suggestions when writing the Cannabis Regulation Act.

None of these lawmakers have any actual experience in policy writing of legislation involving medical cannabis policy or recreational cannabis policy and these lawmakers have gone out of their way to ignore those with that policy expertise.

None of the lawmakers have ever done anything in the legislature for the decriminalization of cannabis, but now when they have a chance to tax a plant like alcohol they have no problem using people who have been caught up in the Drug War for political gain.

Even Drug Policy Alliances own supporter, Dustin Sulak, D.O. a renowned integrative medicine physician and medical cannabis expert based in Maine has said, “I think the best thing for public health and the best thing for patients is decriminalization of cannabis. Not legalization and isolation.”

Legalization before decriminalization also has shown favoritism to larger or more well funded organizations, at the expense of local developments and it most certainly jeopardizes the continuity of patient care in existing medical cannabis programs.
Dr. Dustin Sulak, a supporter of both Americans For Safe Access and Drug Policy Alliance, went on to further say, “I think for policy makers their priority should be, so it’s clear, should be removing the public health risks of prohibition of cannabis. Those public health risks- like putting people in jail for victimless crimes, jeopardizing people's access to financial aid for higher education, jeopardizing people’s employment, and exposing people to a underground market that would increase their potential to access more harmful drugs. All of those areas of harm reduction are all ones that communities can see a public health improvement in, through the decriminalization of cannabis. And all of those issues can be achieved with a logical approach to decriminalization. Then the lawmakers could follow that up with a regulatory scheme for adult use legalization along with keeping crucial aspects for the medical patients and medical cannabis program, like ensuring patients will be able to grow and produce their own medicine.”

Dr. Sulak also spoke about this at The Verdes Foundations New Mexico Medical Cannabis Conference in 2018. None of the lawmakers sponsoring the Cannabis Regulation Act were in attendance.

If arrests for cannabis possession are a true social justice concern for any of the lawmakers, then the solution is very clear in decriminalizing cannabis possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering by passing Senate Bill 323, Decrease Marijuana Penalties, into law.

This legislation for recreational adult use cannabis, HB-356, is 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. Promises and concerns of social justice, that all of the sudden become so important in 2019, but not last year or in years past.

These same Democratic lawmakers all know everything proposed in the Cannabis Regulation Act by Drug Policy Alliance 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.

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. Even our neighbor to the north, in Colorado’s medical cannabis program has seen over a 15% decline in participation in recent years.

As members of the legislative, or lawmaking, branch of OUR state government, legislators work on making changes to existing laws or passing new legislation based on their constituents' needs. Those needs are being ignored by these lawmakers.

These Democratic lawmakers and Drug Policy Alliance are so desperate to pass recreational cannabis legalization in 2019, that they want to hijack all of the infrastructure from the current medical cannabis program with dual licensure for recreational cannabis sales.

The medical cannabis products that a medical cannabis dispensary produces to sell to the medical cannabis patient are completely different and separate products that a recreational cannabis dispensary would carry to sell to the recreational cannabis consumer.

Anything and everything in the Cannabis Regulation Act involving the state’s medical cannabis program should be completely removed from the current legislation. Drug Policy Alliance has only placed medical cannabis policy in the recreational cannabis bill as a sick attempt to curry favor for the bill. Any proposed recreational cannabis law for New Mexico should be a seperate industry from the medical cannabis program law.

Drug Policy Alliance is using medical cannabis policy as a gateway to recreational cannabis taxation and isolation.

The Cannabis Regulation Act is bad policy for medical cannabis and it 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.

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. Martinez, Rep. Ely, Rep. Maestas, Rep. Rubio, Sen. Ortiz y Pino and Rep Deb Armstrong are all 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…talk about a social injustice occurring before our very eyes.

How is Governor Lujan Grisham ok with this?

Lawmakers with misguided priorities pushing for recreational cannabis use on false pretenses. This is why Education, Crime, the State’s Economy, and Poverty/Healthcare; this is why OUR state is always ranked at the bottom of the barrell for these issues. These are also the top biggest concerns for New Mexico voters.

New Mexico in Focus reported that 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, it’s time to include medical cannabis patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens at the policy table for writing all cannabis legislation; instead of meeting in secret behind closed doors at the Roundhouse.

The Voice of the Medical Cannabis Community was not represented at that Legislative Policy Table in 2019 when writing the Cannabis Regulation Act. Only those with a financial interest got a seat at that policy table and that’s what the Cannabis Regulation Act represents, Greed and Gluttony. Good legislative and program policy is only created when those who are most affected are at that table.

Any focus on cannabis policy in the Roundhouse in 2019 should be on medical cannabis program expansion, education about medical cannabis and the program, and protecting the program like Governor Lujan Grisham said. Nothing has been done in eight years for any of those items.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to their medicine at schools before the state legalizes recreational cannabis for other people to have party with.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to medical cannabis in hospitals and medical facilities, like little kids going through the horrors of cancer treatment at UNM, before the state legalizes recreational cannabis use.

Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve safe access to medical cannabis in hospice care facilities and senior retirement communities before the state legalizes cannabis for other people to have fun with.

Our Military Veterans and First Responders deserve safe and equal access to medical cannabis before the state legalizes recreational cannabis for other people to have party with.

Any state educational institution of higher learning should have safe access to research medical cannabis and the state’s medical cannabis program before legalization ruins that potential research.

All doctors and prescribing medical professionals in the State of New Mexico should have safe access to recommend the use of medical cannabis to their patients or patient's caregiver before recreational cannabis legalization. 


Form follows Function and Policy makers in New Mexico and the US for that matter- these Lawmakers 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.

For the sake of integrity and compassion that is what should be done.

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

Please email and/or Write a letter, and Call your New Mexico Legislators, as members of the legislative, or lawmaking, branch of OUR state government, legislators work on making changes to existing laws or passing new legislation based on their constituents' needs. Those needs are being ignored by these lawmakers in the Cannabis Regulation Act.
Link Here: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Members/Find_My_Legislator
“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.”


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
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

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