Being a Medical Cannabis Patient, Caregiver, and Advocate and understanding New Mexico’s medical cannabis program all comes with a learning curve.
More than 70,000 people now carry medical cannabis ID cards to treat illness with cannabis in New Mexico, and many many more seek them. However, it remains a legal conundrum when it comes to federal law, and it’s still disparaged as weak science by some state lawmakers who favor a consumer market for taxation.
Uninformed medical cannabis community members risk getting frustrated or giving up without the right resources. Americans For Safe Access, the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens for promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, and Safe Access New Mexico have some starting guidelines for the medical cannabis community to balance out that learning curve.
1. Know the rulesNew Mexico's rules under the Medical Cannabis Program are different from other states. The ‘Forms & Documents’ section of the Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) website is a comprehensive reference to all of the forms, documents, publications and resources that are currently available for the Medical Cannabis Program (MCP). Within this section is the ‘Medical Cannabis Law Enforcement Fact Sheet’ and it is as it says, a fact sheet with the program law. It is worthwhile to print out a copy of the Medical Cannabis Law Enforcement Fact Sheet to keep in your vehicle in case of a law enforcement encounter. The Rules and Regulations section of DoH MCP website provide a more comprehensive information on medical cannabis registry cards.( NMAC 7.34.3 - Medical cannabis registry identification cards.)
2. Know your rightsThe Americans For Safe Access Legal section of their website has a ‘Knowing Your Rights’ page. The information found in this section is meant to educate patients and their providers about the existing federal laws, how to avoid law enforcement encounters, how to be prepared for encounters, how to understand your rights during encounters, and how to navigate the legal system after an encounter. After you understand this material, be sure to share this information with your family, friends, or anyone who may be at risk. ‘Knowing Your Rights’: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/knowing_your_rights
If a issue does come up there are proactive measures anyone in the medical cannabis community can take.
Reach out to ALL of your local, state, and federal elected representatives with a letter, email and/or phone call explaining your situation and asking them to intervene on your behalf.
“How to Contact Your Elected Officials” - Learn how to get in touch with your federal, state, and local elected leaders. Link to the elected officials section of USA(dot)gov: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
New Mexico Legislature - Find My Legislator Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Members/Find_My_Legislator
The Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) also has a complaint form that can be completed for these kinds of matters and filed with the Medical Cannabis Program Office. The phone number for the MCP Office is 505-827-2321 and here is the link to the Complaint Form in pdf format: https://nmhealth.org/publication/view/form/4576/
File a complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office. Consumer and Family Advocacy Services Division is the first point of contact for all complaints to the Office of Attorney General. Consumer and Family Advocacy Services phone number is (505) 717-3500 and here is the Family Advocacy link: https://www.nmag.gov/consumer-and-family-advocacy-services.aspx
3. Educate your doctor
Let them know that this is medicine and it really does work in our body.
Many physicians still question cannabis as an effective treatment because the research lags behind the industry’s growth. Though the number is growing, over the years there has been over 2,200 different medical providers in New Mexico sign to recommend medical cannabis, and some patients may need to seek out a new doctor who can.
*There is no fee to apply for you medical cannabis card and medical providers can accept health insurance for the medical consultation about your health condition or that of a family member. [Related Articles: ‘Talking To Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis’ and ‘Recommending Medical Cannabis In New Mexico: A Resource For Medical Professionals’]
Download and share this with your doctor: Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book is designed for Members of the 116th Congress, lawmakers and regulators everywhere. In addition to policy recommendations, the Briefing Book contains ASA's expansive new legislative solution for a rescheduled or descheduled cannabis future. The Medical Cannabis Control Act of 2019 will create a new federal agency to oversee medical cannabis and remove that authority from NIDA, DOJ, HHS, and FDA. With a focus on patient safety and not criminal prosecutions, this agency will assist state programs to help medical cannabis patients rather than hinder them.
4. What’s best for you?There’s oils, tinctures and capsules with varying concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, that produce different effects. Dispensary operators can help patients tune their treatment regimen to find the right balance for their symptoms. And the internet has plenty of FREE accredited educational resources along with the side menu on Cannabis New Journal which has over 20 health conditions listed with educational treatment information.
[Related Article: ‘Accredited Medical Cannabis Education Resources’]
Get The Releaf App
Releaf is a patent pending app that enables you to track your live sessions with cannabis and record exactly how it’s helping you. It can then provide intelligent reporting to help you learn what types of cannabis and intake methods are working best in treating your symptoms. Share these reports with doctors and/or budtenders to discuss your treatment and identify your best options.
Web Link to download: https://releafapp.com/
5. Make a plan and learn to advocate for medical cannabis The Americans For Safe Access ‘Medical’ section of the website has ‘Resources for Patients’ page in the drop down menu. There one can discover how to talk to your family about medical cannabis, how to become a state-authorized patient, basic science and legal rights for patients, how to safely use medical cannabis, and how to get involved with medical cannabis advocacy.
‘Resources for Patients’: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/resources_for_patients
Elevate yourself and your advocacy with FREE training from Americans For Safe Access: The Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center The Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center by Americans For Safe Access is a invaluable resource and training to complete. Completing this will help you and help your situation.
ASA believes that good policy is created when those who are most affected are at the table. Just because you are medical cannabis patient, it doesn't mean that you automatically have a degree in public policy. ASA has always been committed to demystifying political systems and providing advocates the tools they need to participate in the processes in a meaningful way. Learn all about grassroots organizing, citizen lobbying, media spokesperson training, and much more. Link to this FREE online training: https://www.safeaccessnow.org/advocate_training_center
Today the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has almost 70,000 registered participants with over 90 dispensaries operated by 35 licensed non-profit producers (LNPP’s). 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.”
Effective Dates of New Cannabis Related Laws for New Mexico in 2019: Cannabis Decriminalization for the State, The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2019 (SB-323 Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0323.pdf)
Medical Cannabis Changes Law (SB-406) June 14 is the Effective date of this legislation since it is not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date. (SB-406 Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0406.pdf)
Add E-Cigs to Clean Indoor Air Act, June 14 is the Effective date of this legislation since it is not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date. (Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/HB0256.pdf)
Medical Cannabis in Schools Law, SB-204, June 14 is the Effective date of this legislation since it is not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date. (Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0204.pdf)