Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Understanding New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis in Schools Law


Let’s take a look at the Medical Cannabis in Schools Law, SB-204 signed by the Governor on April 4th 2019. The new law takes effect on June 14 2019, this is the Effective date for this legislation since it is not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date. The new law takes effect on June 14 2019.

The new law requires compliance by the schools, the state, and by the parent/guardian of the student.

The Medical Cannabis in Schools law has created a new section of the Public School Code to permit the use, storage, and possession of medical cannabis in school settings under certain conditions. Students may not self-administer the medication, and parents, guardians, or school personnel may not administer the medication to students in a way disruptive to school.

The new law also lays out a process to follow which has not been allowed to occur in this situation highlighted in the recent ABQ Journal article, first the PED needs to set forth policies for the schools to adopt from the new law. This has not happened due to the June 14th 2019 effective date of the new law for doing this.

There are also three (3) components to the new Medical Cannabis in Schools law that parents/guardians and caregivers will need to prepare, for their student. A written treatment plan for the administration of the medical cannabis will need to be created. The written treatment plan has to be agreed to and signed by the principal or the principal's designee of the qualified student's school and the qualified student's parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

In addition to the written treatment plan, a qualified student's parent or legal guardian needs to complete and submit documentation as required by the local school board or charter school rules that includes:
(a) copy of the qualified student's written certification for use of medical cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
(b) written statement from the qualified student's parent or legal guardian releasing the school and school personnel from liability, except in cases of willful or wanton misconduct or disregard of the qualified student's treatment plan.

Before any school can even try to deny a student or opt out they need to allow this process to occur, according to the new law. Once the new law take effect parents/guardians and caregivers should then start contacting their school.

This is the most important part of the new Medical Cannabis in Schools law in #2 below, and this was an amendment added that parents and Safe Access New Mexico fought for in legislative committee hearing during the 2019 legislative session. From Subsection C of the new law:
“C. The provisions of Subsection A of this section shall not apply to a charter school or school district if:
(1) the charter school or school district reasonably determines that it would lose, or has lost, federal funding as a result of implementing the provisions of Subsection A of this section; and
(2) the determination is appealable by any parent to the secretary, based on rules established by the department.”
From page 3 line 7-15 of the new law. Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/final/SB0204.pdf



So what about bogus threat of losing any Federal School Funding?

No school can prove any loss of any federal funds because they would not know themselves as an individual school, the Public Education Department would know of this and would know if it was a real legitimate concern, which it is not. 

The bill would not have become law in New Mexico if this was a real concern.

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 at those schools. Schools in seven (7) other states are already doing this will no loss of any funds. Nor will it happen to any New Mexico school. Medical Cannabis is just like any other medication, except it is much more safer to use.

Every year in the federal budget, called the “omnibus” appropriations bill, the US Congress includes a rider that continues to bar and prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from enforcing the the federal prohibition of cannabis in some circumstances pertaining to states who enact their own medical cannabis laws.
This rider is also known as the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment.
Here is the full text of the budget rider:
“SEC. 538. None of the funds made available under 4 this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In Federal Court, United States v. McIntosh, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the quoted language to bar the DOJ from prosecuting individuals who manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana in strict compliance with state medical cannabis laws.

The Public Education Department in New Mexico has final say in the new Medical Cannabis in Schools law, not a single school like mentioned in the recent ABQ Journal article.

Any determination made by any school or any charter school or school district is appealable by any parent to the Secretary of the Public Education Department, based on rules that will be established by the Public Education Department (PED).

Ultimately it is not up to any school or any charter school or school district in denying a student who is a medical cannabis patient. 


When any school or any charter school or school district makes these threats of losing federal funding or any attempt to deny a student, there are several steps that can be taken by parents/guardians and caregivers.

  1. The PED needs to be involved immediately as they will have the final say in the matter with this new law. The New Mexico Public Education Department phone number is 505-827-5800 and here is the PED “Contact Us” link: https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/contact-us/
  2. 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. 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/
  4. Reach out and contact 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.  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 and for the New Mexico Legislature - Find My Legislator Link: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Members/Find_My_Legislator
  5. Send the Governor’s Office a respectful message on the Governor’s Website Contact Form and then place a Phone Call telling the Governor’s Office about the message just sent and briefly about the situation. The Governor’s Office Phone: (505) 476-2200 and the link to the contact form: https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact/
  6. Elevate yourself and your advocacy with FREE training from Americans For Safe Access(ASA): 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

Also please keep in mind that with the Effective date of the new law being June 14th 2019, the PED will need to create rules for the appeal process layed out in the new law.

In Addition to all of that, once the new medical cannabis changes law takes effect, the medical cannabis patients have this protection from Senate Bill 406, which is probably the most beneficial aspect of the new medical cannabis changes law for the medical cannabis community that will be very beneficial in petitioning the advisory board for new changes by rule.
“For the purposes of medical care, including an organ transplant, a qualified patient's use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act shall be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication under the direction of a physician and shall not be considered to constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a qualified patient from medical care."
The last sentence of the new act summarizes many provisions of the act: “A qualified patient’s use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act shall be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication under the supervision of a physician.
Read more about this here: http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2019/04/governor-lujan-grisham-signs-medical.html


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)










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