Thursday, March 26, 2020

COVID-19 Recommendations for Patients/Caregivers and COVID-19 Recommendations for Dispensary Operations





COVID-19 Recommendations for Patients/Caregivers and COVID-19 Recommendations for Dispensary Operations:

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Safe Access New Mexico is providing the information below in an attempt to help medical cannabis patients make preparations for the COVID-19 pandemic and safeguard their well-being. This is a fluid situation and recommendations may change as the situation evolves. Please refer to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention COVID-19 preparedness page and stay apprised of developments. Follow the recommendations of public health officials to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis program law states that, “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”.

While state law may not recognize dispensaries as a pharmacy, access to medical cannabis through the dispensary system is very much the same as a pharmacy which is defined as a store where medicinal drugs are dispensed and sold.

Right now all the Pharmacies in the state are operating in the same manner with the same guidelines and it would be great to see all the medical cannabis producers do the same to prevent any confusion for the medical cannabis program community.

Our medical cannabis dispensaries should be operating like the pharmacies in the state are right now during this coronavirus crisis, with that same level of consistency in operational guidelines across the board.

COVID-19 Resources For Patients, Caregivers, and Dispensaries: 

ACNA COVID-19 Response Letter - March 18, 2020 

“The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) insists that all claims concerning cannabis and health are substantiated and evidence-based.”
“The FDA made clear there are no available products to treat or cure the coronavirus at this time, including prescription pills, vaccines, potions, lotions, lozenges, etc. Cannabis and CBD products have no proof of efficacy against coronavirus, and so we must not claim otherwise.”  [https://cannabisnurses.org/]

NORML Consumer Alert
NORML issued a reminder that consumers should beware of misinformation claiming that Hemp CBD products are effective against coronavirus - March 23, 2020 [https://blog.norml.org/2020/03/23/a-norml-reminder-beware-of-covid-19-cure-all-claims/]


Should I wear a mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people wear masks at this time. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have been exposed to COVID-19, and who have symptoms. This is to protect other people from the risk of getting infected. Masks are also crucial for healthcare workers and other people who are taking care of someone who has COVID-19 at home or in a healthcare facility.
World Health Organization guidelines about this: [https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks]

Preserving personal protection equipment (PPEs) is the goal of two new health orders. Both orders were issued by New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel; both take effect Wednesday, March 25, and both continue until the governor rescinds them.
[https://cv.nmhealth.org/public-health-orders-and-executive-orders/]


CDC Workplace Guidelines for the Coronavirus

-OSHA/HHS Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
-CDC Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
[https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html]

Figure 2: Molecular Structure of Coronavirus
Molecular Structure of Coronavirus (ASA)

Cannabinoids, Influenza, and Coronavirus 

March 24, 2020 | By Heather Despres, M.Sc., PFC Director
“With everything happening in the news lately, we want to present some scientific data to help medical cannabis patients and adult-use consumers make informed decisions in regard to cannabis products available, product safety, and personal health. Each person’s health situation is unique, and medical cannabis patients should discuss with their doctor or healthcare provider the best approach to prevent and treat current illnesses while potentially battling influenza or coronavirus.”
[https://www.safeaccessnow.org/cannabinoids_influenza_and_coronavirus]


Discrimination & Stigma

Discrimination is against the law and can be reported to the City of Albuquerque Office of Civil Rights. Stigma, xenophobia, and misinformation will drive suspected cases underground and make it harder to keep everyone healthy. Coronavirus (COVID-19) does not discriminate, and neither should we. It is important to remember that people – including those of Asian descent – who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are not at greater risk of spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) than other Americans. Wearing a mask does not mean a person is ill. Speak up if you hear, see, or read misinformation or harassment. Show compassion and support for those impacted by stigma.
Report Discrimination
The City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico accept reports of discrimination through the organizations listed below.
[https://www.cabq.gov/environmentalhealth/news/city-of-albuquerque-coronavirus-faqs]


General considerations

COVID-19 is a serious and extremely infectious respiratory illness that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Public health organizations at the state and federal levels have expressed concern over the capacity of the U.S. healthcare system to handle the scale of urgent lifesaving measures that will be needed. In response, states are enacting measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19, including closing all non-essential businesses. Health experts have warned that it is possible to transmit the virus even when someone is not showing symptoms. Unnecessarily exposing yourself or others to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can prolong and worsen the pandemic. The power to save lives is in your hands. Stay home to the extent possible.

Healthcare recommendations

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, appointments with healthcare providers should be conducted via telemedicine whenever possible. Many jurisdictions that did not previously allow telemedicine for medical cannabis certifications have adopted temporary rules to allow precisely that during this public health emergency. While many medical cannabis jurisdictions still require an in-person visit for initial certification, a large number have authorized the use of telemedicine for renewal certifications.

Please give serious consideration to postponing any non-essential medical or dental procedures that cannot be completed using telemedicine. Rescheduling these appointments once the public health threat has diminished will reduce the burden on healthcare providers when they may be under particular strain and may help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Dispensary-specific recommendations

Many jurisdictions are allowing medical cannabis dispensaries to offer delivery, drive-through, and/or curbside pickup services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we strongly encourage patients to use these services wherever they are available.

If you must go inside a dispensary in order to place or retrieve an order, refer to the dispensary’s menu and determine in advance which products you will be purchasing. If possible, place a pre-order. This approach will help you minimize the amount of time you spend in the dispensary. Do not use “smell jars” or purchase cannabis flowers that others could have breathed on (i.e., if purchasing flowers, ensure that they are pre-packaged).

Any time you are outside of your home, maintain a distance of at least six feet between you and any individuals not living in your household. This includes dispensary staff and others in the dispensary. Be mindful not to touch your face in the dispensary. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after leaving the dispensary. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer is an acceptable substitute.

To ensure a sufficient supply of medical cannabis should you need to self-isolate or should a stay at home order be issued in your home jurisdiction, and to minimize opportunities for exposure, it is recommended that, if possible, you purchase enough cannabis to last for two to four weeks. When determining how much to buy, please be mindful of other patients’ needs and the potential for a run on medicine. Artificial scarcity must be avoided. It is important to be prepared to meet your minimum medical requirements, but please avoid hoarding a quantity of cannabis that is far greater than you would normally consume within four weeks.

Cannabis storage

Store your medical cannabis in appropriate containers and under appropriate conditions to preserve its quality. Containers should be rigid, airtight, opaque, and made of a non-reactive material, such as glass or stainless steel. Humidity control packets that maintain humidity at between 58% and 62% RH can be placed in the containers to help protect product quality. Containers should be stored in a cool, dark place.

Rationing medicine

To ensure that your supply of medical cannabis does not run low - or if you already have less than you need and are unable to obtain more for some time - you may wish to ration your medicine. (A scale that can measure up to two decimal places, such as a jeweler’s scale, can be a very helpful tool.) Divide the total amount of cannabis in your possession by the number of days it must last to determine the amount available to you each day. Separate each day’s supply out in advance to help ensure that you do not exceed the allotted amount and will have sufficient medical cannabis through the rationing period.

Cleaning and using cannabis-related equipment

To minimize impact on the respiratory system and prevent illness, patients who administer medical cannabis via inhalation are advised to thoroughly and regularly clean the equipment used for that purpose. Glass can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol or cleaners formulated for glass pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s directions with regard to cleaning any electronic equipment.

If you use an adjustable vaporizer, variable voltage battery, e-nail, or other device that allows user control over temperature, keep the temperature on the cooler side of the effective range to minimize irritation to the airway and lungs.

Do not share any such equipment with individuals with whom you do not reside.

Social considerations

In normal times, consuming cannabis can be a social experience, even when its use is required for medical purposes. These are not normal times. Do not share or consume cannabis with - or otherwise come within six feet of - people who do not live within your household. We all must practice effective social distancing measures to save as many lives as possible during the global COVID-19 health emergency. 


Share Your Updates
We want to know how your local businesses are responding to COVID-19. Please share your update so that ASA can continue to respond to this issue as best we can around the country.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) holds 8th Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference Online Friday, March 27, 2020. Register Now!

Medical Cannabis Patients, Medical Professionals, Advocates, and Industry Leaders Will Converge Online for the 2020 National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference.


WASHINGTON, DC — On Friday, March 27, 2020, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will hold its 8th Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity conference. This year, for the first time ever, the conference will be held online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of cancelling or postponing the conference, ASA decided to move this year’s Unity Conference from an in-person conference to an online conference in order to make their program content available to participants across the country. From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, ASA will share the latest developments in medical cannabis, discuss barriers to medical cannabis access, exchange ideas about how to navigate medical cannabis policy--nationally and globally--in this ever-changing political landscape, and demand action from state and federal elected officials.

This year’s Unity Conference theme is “Campaigning for Cannabis: Making Policies Work for Patients”. The conference will highlight issues that medical cannabis patients are still facing and will provide policy solutions that participants will be able to share with their state legislators. Although medical cannabis is legal in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, due to cannabis still being federally illegal, many patients across the country still have to deal with the fear of losing their children, being kicked out of housing, traveling out of state without their medicine, losing their jobs, and not having access to medical cannabis in healthcare settings such as hospices. During the conference participants will learn solutions to mitigate these issues and will leave with the knowledge they need to advocate for better policies and to vote for candidates that align with their views on cannabis on election day in November 2020.

When: Friday, March 27 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET

What: 8th Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference

Where: Online using Zoom

Who: Reporters, medical cannabis patients, caregivers, veterans, advocates, medical professionals, industry business leaders, health care providers, researchers, legal and regulatory experts, industry representatives

“While this country has made incredible progress in the last few years towards the acceptance of medical cannabis, many barriers to safe and legal access still remain,” said Steph Sherer, President and Founder of Americans for Safe Access. “Ensuring access for patients means more than just acceptance; we need to continue to urge legislators to enact better safety regulations, laws, and civil protections that will allow all patients safe and equal access to this medicine. We also need to continue to push for policies that will expand medical professional education, science, and research to better understand the potential of this medicine.”

“Due to the safety of all participants during this coronavirus pandemic, ASA decided to move this year’s Unity Conference from an in-person conference to an online conference,” said Debbie Churgai, interim director of Americans for Safe Access. “While it is disappointing that we won’t be able to engage with each other in person, with this year being an election year, we felt Unity 2020 was too important to cancel, and we are excited to bring our great content in an online format, so that people everywhere can participate and engage with our community.”


REGISTER FOR OUR ONLINE UNITY CONFERENCE
Your registration for the 2020 National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference includes online access to a day of online panels and programming on March 27. This ticket covers the whole Unity 20 agenda. 

If you are an ASA member in good standing, please be sure to take advantage of the discounted member registrations below. You may need to log-in for access. If you are NOT an ASA member, please be sure to take advantage of the discounted member registration and a discounted membership fee by becoming a member today and buying a conference ticket for only $50.


About Americans for Safe AccessThe mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.

ASA was founded in 2002 by medical cannabis patient Steph Sherer as a vehicle for patients to advocate for the acceptance of cannabis as medicine. With over 100,000 active members in all 50 states, ASA is the largest national organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political, social, and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, research, grassroots empowerment, advocacy, and services for patients, governments, medical professionals, and medical cannabis providers.


# # #

Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates Call on Governors to Protect Patients Amid Covid-19 Outbreak




Americans for Safe Access Provides Governors, Mayors, Medical Cannabis Program Directors with Action List

Washington, DC -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sent out a letter March 16, 2020 to call on governors and directors of state medical cannabis programs to take immediate action to ensure that patients continue to have access to medical cannabis and that the supply chain is not interrupted while Governors are creating emergency plans in their states to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help avert another public health crisis, Americans for Safe Access held an emergency meeting with key stakeholders across the country to gather information that will help Governors and directors of medical cannabis programs address issues that are affecting patients and businesses across the country.

ASA and its stakeholders recommend that all governors and/or medical cannabis directors put the following measures into place immediately to ensure that patients--many of whom represent our nation’s most vulnerable population--are protected:
  1. Ensure that cannabis businesses that serve patients are considered "essential" businesses.
  2. Instruct medical cannabis businesses on how they can make legal temporary changes to their business plans, including delivery and purchase limits to accommodate patients and staff during the crisis.
  3. Give tax relief to patients and businesses.
  4. Allow cultivation and processing centers to stay open to ensure medicine in the future. 
  5. Extend the expiration date of state-issued cannabis identification cards so that doctors and other health care providers can focus on COVID-19. 
  6. Permit authorized caregivers to serve additional patients during the crisis period.
  7. Allow telehealth visits for new and renewing medical cannabis patients. 
  8. Allow dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis to qualifying patients and caregivers in a vehicle parked in the dispensary’s parking lot.

To help keep patients updated, ASA has also created a page for people to share how businesses are responding to COVID-19 across the country www.safeaccessnow.org/COVID-19.
“In light of the current state of COVID-19 and the CDC’s actions, Americans for Safe Access has been monitoring the situation to make sure that medical cannabis patients are not forgotten," said ASA Founder and President Steph Sherer. We want to ensure that dispensaries are seen as essential businesses that will remain open for patients. We applaud states that have already put emergency precautions into action and we will keep patients and the public updated on any future developments through our www.safeaccessnow.org/COVID-19 response page.”

Some states have already taken action to help patients continue to access their medicine through different strategies, like California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control is working with CA businesses that serve medical cannabis patients by granting temporary changes in business plans that take into account the needs of patients and workers during this crisis. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana dispensaries will remain open since they fall into the same classification as pharmacies, which makes them essential. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance is also encouraging the State of Massachusetts to safeguard safe access and expand remote services for patients and caregivers to medical cannabis as it is medically essential healthcare.
“More than 3 million medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries in their states to provide them with medication, which to many patients can also be life saving,” said ASA Interim Director Debbie Churgai. “The health and safety of patients, dispensary staff and the community as a whole is our priority and we hope that Governors and state regulators will allow some important flexibility for medical cannabis patients during this time of need.”

ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit (501(c)(3)), is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research with over 100,000 active members in all 50 states.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION TO GOVERNORS OF MEDICAL CANNABIS STATES An Important Message About Medical Cannabis Access and COVID-19



March 16, 2020

EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION TO GOVERNORS OF MEDICAL CANNABIS STATES 
An Important Message About Medical Cannabis Access and COVID-19 

Dear Governors and Medical Cannabis Program Directors:

As Governors are creating emergency plans in their states to address the COVID-19 virus, Americans for Safe Access and our allies would like to offer some guidance when addressing medical cannabis patients, who represent some of the states’ most vulnerable citizens. We are calling on states to take precautions now to help ensure that patients have access today and that measures are taken to ensure that the supply chain is not interrupted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hinted that it may call for all non-essential businesses to close to prevent the spread of the virus. Medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries in their states to provide them with medication, which is life-saving to many patients.

We know that many states are currently taking action to help patients continue to access their medicine through different strategies. For example, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control is working with CA businesses that serve medical cannabis patients by granting temporary changes in business plans that take into account the needs of patients and workers during this crisis. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana dispensaries will remain open since they fall into the same classification as pharmacies, which makes them essential.

To help avert another public health crisis, we encourage all state programs to be flexible at this time to allow for additional precautions to be put in place to protect the millions of patients nationwide that rely on this medicine.

(click here)

It is our recommendation that governors and/or medical cannabis directors put the following measures into place immediately to ensure that patients do not have disrupted access to their medicine:

1. Make sure that cannabis businesses that serve patients are considered "essential" businesses.

2. Instruct medical cannabis businesses on how they can make legal temporary changes to their business plans, including delivery and purchase limits, to accommodate patients and staff during the crisis.

3. Give tax relief to patients and businesses.

4. Allow cultivation and processing centers to stay open to ensure a steady supply of medicine in the future.

5. Extend the expiration dates of state-issued cannabis identification cards so that doctors and other health care providers can focus on COVID-19.

6. Permit authorized caregivers to serve additional patients during the crisis period.

7. Allow telehealth visits for new and renewing medical cannabis patients.

8. Allow dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis to qualifying patients and caregivers in vehicles parked in the dispensary parking lots.


We understand that determining the best means by which to keep your communities safe is no easy task, and we thank you for taking our recommendations into consideration as you craft strategies to ensure that medical cannabis will be available to all patients in need throughout this public health emergency.


Sincerely,

Debbie Churgai Interim
Director Americans for Safe Access
debbie@safeaccessnow.org


PDF Version:
https://american-safe-access.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/ASA_COVID-19.pdf


Headquarters: Toll Free: (888) 929-4367
Website: americansforsafeaccess.org
Facebook: facebook.com/safeaccessnow
Twitter: @SafeAccess
Instagram: americansforsafeaccess


Friday, March 13, 2020

Safe Access New Mexico Letter to NM Dept. of Health for COVID-19 Response

Jason Barker

Albuquerque, NM 87109

SafeAccessNewMexico@gmail.com


Friday, March 13th 2020


Office of the Cabinet Secretary
The Honorable Kathyleen Kunkel
New Mexico Department of Health
Harold Runnels Building
1190 S. St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505


Dr. Zurlo, Medical Cannabis Program Manager
New Mexico Department of Health
Medical Cannabis Program
PO Box 26110
Santa Fe, NM, 87502-6110
(via email )

Dear Cabinet Secretary Kunkel and Dr. Zurlo,

For a month now our state and the rest of the US has been carefully trying to navigate the COVID 19 crisis.

The Governor on Wednesday issued a public health emergency, as other states have, in order to maximize the resources available to the state in order to fight the potential spread of the virus and minimize public health risks for New Mexicans. And then New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel issued an order Thursday temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings in New Mexico in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to canceling all large public events and avoiding large public gatherings whenever possible, New Mexico health officials continue to urge New Mexicans to:

Avoid all non-essential travel to affected out-of-state areas; and exercise extreme caution with all out-of-state travel

Remain home (“self-isolate”) if you are sick and call the Department of Health at 1-855-600-3453 if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of COVID-19

Those symptoms include fever, cough or trouble breathing

And continue taking precautionary steps to protect your individual health, such as:

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Clean “high-touch” surfaces daily with regular household cleaners

Avoid sharing personal household items


And as you both very well know and understand, the majority of the health conditions on the MCP’s qualifying conditions list are one where people have a compromised immune system.

I respectfully ask the Department of Health to please consider extending the expiration of all medical cannabis program registry cards (patient/caregiver) to the end of the year, December 31st 2020. This would be a prudent move for the safety of everyone involved in this renewal process - including Department staff.

I also think this would also be another proactive measure of the Department that would coincide with CDC Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission. [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf]

My patient registry card expires April 19th 2020 and I have been trying all this week and last week to get an appointment with my doctor with no luck. To be eligible for the program we have to be seeing the same doctor or medical provider yearly. And with it being March 13th now, this most likely means I am going to not be able to have my card renewed turned in and processed before my card expires.

And I can't be the only patient having issues trying to get an appointment with their medical provider due to the COVID 19 crisis and the panic now going on in our state. And with over 82,000 patients in the MCP that means hundreds and hundreds of people are renewing every month and having to go to a medical provider.

Putting a strain on our already thinly stretched health care system in New Mexico during this COVID 19 crisis, especially if it would put patients/caregivers in the MCP at risk to COVID 19 - due to the types of qualifying conditions in the program.

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”― Voltaire


Most Respectfully Yours,
Jason M. Barker

Albuquerque, NM 87109

SafeAccessNewMexico@gmail.com


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New Mexico announces first presumptive positive COVID-19 cases



SANTA FE - March 11, 2020 – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Health on Wednesday announced that three New Mexico residents tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed cases in the state.

Gov. Lujan Grisham and state health officials will be holding a news conference at 11 a.m. in Room 310 of the state Capitol, 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, to announce additional details and the state’s response to the presumptive positive test results, which arrived this morning.

Per the state Department of Health, two of the cases are a Socorro County husband and wife, both in their 60s, with known recent international travel to Egypt. Both are at home in isolation. The third case is a woman in her 70s in Bernalillo County with known recent travel to the New York City area. She is also isolated at home.

The press conference will be streamed live at http://www.facebook.com/GovMLG/.

The governor’s office and Department of Health will send another notice with additional detail following the news conference.
“The state Department of Health has been preparing for this day for weeks now,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I will be announcing additional information and steps New Mexicans can and should take to protect themselves and our communities very, very shortly. In the meantime, I will reiterate that New Mexicans can take preventive actions to protect themselves and mitigate the potential spread. We will address this public health challenge together.”
As before, New Mexicans can take easy preventative steps to help stop and mitigate the spread of communicable diseases, such as:

- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Clean “high-touch” surfaces daily with regular household cleaners
- Avoid sharing personal household items -- when sick, stay at home and don’t go to work or school

Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. They include fever, cough or shortness of breath.


Source: MEDIA ADVISORY:
Contact: Nora Meyers Sackett
Press Secretary, Office of the Governor


RESOURCE:Coronavirus in the US: Map, case counts and news
By Live Science Staff Update Mar 11 2020 9:30 am
https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-updates-united-states.html

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

New Mexico State University To Host “Hemp Growing Education Day” Seminar in Santa Fe

Image may contain: possible text that says 'BE BOLD. Shape the Future. NM and Environmental Sciences College of Agricultural, Consumer STATE Cooperative Extension Service Doña Ana County Extension Office'
Credit:NMSU
SANTA FE – Hemp production is a new crop option for agriculture producers, but it may not be an easy one for profitable success.

Two men in a field of hemp
Colorado State University researchers work in a hemp field. Research-based information on growing hemp in northern New Mexico will be presented at an educational event Thursday, March 26, in Santa Fe. (Courtesy photo)
Landscape photo of hemp plants
Hemp plants
Close up of hemp plants
Hemp plants

Following the 2019 growing season, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service county agents heard about the trials and tribulations that growers in northern New Mexico experienced.

In response to producers requesting research-based information about growing hemp, NMSU Extension developed a “Hemp Growing Education Day” to be held Thursday, March 26, at the Santa Fe County fairgrounds, 3229 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe.

The event is hosted by NMSU Extension’s Small Farm and Ranch Task Force, which provides educational training in New Mexico’s 13 northern counties and eight northern pueblos.

“The goal of the seminar is to help producers to be successful not only growing hemp, but finding a viable market outlet,” said John Garlisch, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in Bernalillo County. “The presentations will be focused on the growing challenges faced by small-acreage producers in northern New Mexico.”

Registration will be at 8 a.m. with presentations beginning at 8:30 a.m.

“The morning sessions will focus on rules and regulations,” Garlisch said, “including training of the federal Worker Protection Standards. Attendees who complete the training will be certified as trained handlers, a requirement by law if any chemicals are used with employees present.”

Representatives from New Mexico Department of Agriculture will present regulations for growing the crop. New Mexico Environmental Department representatives will present the post-harvest and processing regulations. A member of the New Mexico Acequia Association will discuss water rights.

Natalie Goldberg, NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental interim associate dean of agricultural experiment station administration, will present resources available from NMSU.

“After an included lunch, the sessions will focus on the production of hemp and the economic risks,” Garlisch said. “Agricultural specialists from New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Nevada will present research-based information.”

The scientific issues associated with growing hemp will include agronomy, presented by Calvin Trostel, Texas A&M’s AgriLife who has worked with producers in Colorado; pests and beneficial insects by Melissa Schreiner, Colorado State University; and plant diseases and disorders by Rebecca Creamer, NMSU professor in the entomology, plant pathology and weed science department.

Results from variety trials conducted in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado will be presented by Kevin Lombard, NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Farmington superintendent. “The two aspects of the business side of farming – marketing and the cost risk – will wrap up the presentations,” Garlisch said.

Organizing farmer co-ops is a way to address post-harvest issues of marketing. Susann Mikkelson, NMSU Extension agent in Quay County who was formerly with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, will discuss how to organize a farmers co-op.

Jim Libbin, retired NMSU agriculture economics professor, will discuss the cost risks associated with growing hemp.

Early-bird registration is $40 through March 19. After that date, including at the door, registration is $60. Online registration with a credit card and address for the early-bird mail-in payment is available at https://ezregister.com/events/31826/.

Vendors associated with hemp production are invited to present their products; registration is $125. Sponsorship are available for $250. For more information, contact Garlisch at garlisch@nmsu.edu or call 505-243-1386.

Full details and other upcoming programs, please visit the Small Farm and Ranch Task Force website, https://aces.nmsu.edu/sfrtf/, or search online with NMSU Small Farm + Hemp.

 Credit: NMSU & Jane Moorman


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

New Mexico Department of Health Releases Medical Cannabis Program Reciprocity Regulations


This amendment creates a new section at 7.34.4.30 NMAC, effective 2/25/2020.
7.34.4.30 RECIPROCITY: Beginning July 1, 2020, an individual who holds proof of authorization to participate in the medical cannabis program of another state of the United States, the District of Columbia, a territory or commonwealth of the United States or a New Mexico Indian nation, tribe or pueblo may lawfully purchase and possess cannabis, provided that the quantity of cannabis does not exceed the reciprocal limit identified in this section.

A. Reciprocal participation:

(1) General requirements: A reciprocal participant:
(a) may participate in the medical cannabis program in accordance with department rules;
(b) shall not be required to comply with the registry identification card application and renewal requirements established pursuant to this section and department rules;
(c) shall at all times possess proof of authorization to participate in the medical cannabis program of another state, the District of Columbia, a territory or commonwealth of the United States or a New Mexico Indian nation, tribe or pueblo and shall present proof of that authorization when purchasing cannabis from a licensee; and
(d) shall register with a licensed non-profit producer for the purpose of tracking sales to the reciprocal participant in an electronic system specified by the department.

(2) Minors: In the event that a reciprocal participant is a minor, a licensed non-profit producer shall not sell or transfer cannabis to the minor, but may sell or transfer cannabis to a parent or legal guardian of the minor who holds proof of authorization to purchase cannabis on the minor’s behalf that was issued by another state of the United States, the District of Columbia, a territory or commonwealth of the United States or a New Mexico Indian nation, tribe or pueblo.


B. Reciprocal limit: A reciprocal participant may collectively possess within any three-month period a quantity of usable cannabis no greater than 230 total units. For purposes of department rules, this quantity is deemed the reciprocal limit. (For ease of reference: 230 units is equivalent to 230 grams, or approximately eight ounces, of dried usable cannabis plant material).


C. Registration; verification; tracking: A licensed non-profit producer shall require the submittal of a reciprocal participant’s contact information for registration purposes, to include the individual’s full name, date of birth, mailing address, and the enrollment number specified in the individual’s medical cannabis program enrollment card (if applicable); and shall record that information in an electronic tracking system specified by the department. The licensed non-profit producer shall confirm the accuracy of a reciprocal participant’s contact information prior to each transaction. A licensed non-profit producer that registers a reciprocal participant or that sells or transfers cannabis or a cannabis product to a reciprocal participant shall first verify the reciprocal participant’s identity by viewing the individual’s proof of authorization from the other state, territory or tribe, and also viewing the reciprocal participant’s government-issued photo identification card. A licensed non-profit producer that sells or otherwise transfers cannabis or a cannabis product to a reciprocal participant shall track the sale or transfer using an electronic system specified for that purpose by the department.


D. Refusal of service: A non-profit producer that reasonably suspects that either a person’s proof of authorization or identification card is falsified may refuse to dispense cannabis to cannabis to that individual.


E. Informational materials: At the time of a sale or transfer of cannabis to a reciprocal participant, a non-profit producer shall provide informational materials to the reciprocal participant that include, at a minimum, a notice of the time and quantity limits for reciprocity under this section, and a notice concerning state and federal prohibitions against the transport of cannabis across state and international boundaries.
 
[7.34.4.30 NMAC - N, 02/25/2020]
New Mexico Register / Volume XXXI, Issue 4 / February 25, 2020
http://164.64.110.134/nmac/nmregister/xxxi/7.34.4amend.html


Medical Cannabis Program NewsOn February 20, 2020, the Governor of the State of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 139 which requires patients to be residents of New Mexico. The Medical Cannabis Program requires a State of New Mexico issued Driver License or ID to be included with their application.
Please watch the program website for additional information. The press release is listed below:
Governor signs Senate Bill 139
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday afternoon signed Senate Bill 139, ensuring New Mexico’s medical cannabis program is reserved for New Mexico residents and reciprocal patients enrolled in out-of-state programs, as was the intention of legislation approved in 2019.

Senate Bill 139, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, corrected a drafting error in the 2019 update of New Mexico’s medical cannabis law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.

Senate Bill 139 restores the original definition of a “qualified patient" as a “resident of New Mexico.” Reciprocal patients who have enrolled in medical cannabis programs of other U.S. states are also eligible to participate.

The law takes effect immediately. Out-of-state residents who applied for and received access to New Mexico’s medical cannabis program in the last year will not be able to renew their cards upon their expiration.
https://nmhealth.org/news/awareness/2020/2/?view=836



Monday, February 17, 2020

New Mexico's Governor is wrong to change medical cannabis residency, We're a Sanctuary State!



John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”


Senate Bill 139, Medical Cannabis “Qualified Patient”, should be Tabled and should Not Pass out of the Legislative Health and Human Services committee, that is Chaired by a very close friend, Biz Partner, and Campaign Treasurer - Rep. Deb Armstrong. 
Also very concerning this bill only gets one committee, it bypasses the House Judiciary but its supporters says it raises a legal matter.

Senate Bill 139 changes the definition of “qualified patient” (i.e. a person who is able to consume medical cannabis) in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (LECUA) creating a legal requirement in which requires the person be a resident of New Mexico.

Much of the concerns mentioned for SB-139 are about breaking Federal Policy and in some situations Federal Law.

Examples of breaking Federal Policy and in some situations Federal Law would be Albuquerque’s decision not to follow parts of federal immigration law or the State’s choice not to follow parts of federal immigration law.

For Albuquerque that has resulted in the Federal Government withholding more than 10 million dollars to combat the out of control crime problem.

It’s also very interesting how the Governor and this bill's sponsor have been very outspoken about New Mexico and Albuquerque helping immigrants and doing what we can despite the Federal Government's overly restrictive immigration policies but here in the this matter we have people also coming to New Mexico seeking help with medical treatments, seeing a medical provider, and lawfully being recommended into the medical cannabis program.
Why are we okay to violate federal immigration policy for people from other countries but when people from other states come to New Mexico for the Medical Cannabis Program we decide we want to change state law and prevent that?

Just like the “Certification” proposal enacted by Attorney General William Barr that has limited the ability of migrants to seek asylum in the United States, this proposal backed by Governor Lujan Grisham could hurt those living just outside New Mexico’s border that cannot legally access medical cannabis in their home states.

“This bill reflects one of the weaknesses in this state which is the propensity to pick winners and losers,” that is what Senator Cervantes said about the Cannabis Regulation Act in Senate Judiciary last week. The same is true about Senate Bill 139.

Senator Steinborn said during the Senate Floor debate for SB-139, that New Mexico could be on the “cutting edge” of what he called a humanitarian issue of medical cannabis. Going on to say, “I personally am not convinced we have to take this step in changing the law.”

Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said during the Senate Floor debate for SB-139 that there are no other health care services in the state that are limited to residents only, specifically mentioning pregnant women who come to New Mexico because of laws that are less restrictive for abortion than many other states.

“We allow people from all over the country to come here,” Candelaria said, adding that he is very much in favor of the state’s abortion law.

Senator Ortiz y Pino, has argued that by allowing out-of-state patients, New Mexico is inviting federal scrutiny. Senator Ortiz y Pino is also the sponsor of this year's Recreational Cannabis Legalization bill. If the Senator sincerely believes these 615 plus individuals enrolled in the NM Medical Cannabis Program threatens the program’s existence in the eyes of the Federal government, then why is the Senator sponsoring a recreational cannabis bill?

How does the Senator and our Governor justify pushing for an adult use program with projected $600 million in annual cannabis sales, of which 42% will be from out-of-state visitors.

The unfortunate aspect of Senate Bill 139, Medical Cannabis “Qualified Patient”, is how it exposes the biggest problem for the Cannabis Regulation Act - being depended upon people crossing back and forth over state lines with cannabis.

This proposed law, SB-139, will actually force medical cannabis patients back into the black market. That is a liable situation for a state that has provided access to medical cannabis and then took that access away, after interfering with what a medical professional recommended for these people, which is to be in this state's medical cannabis program.


The Rescinded Cole Memo has come in by the backers of the measure, the Rescinded Cole Memo means absolutely nothing in regards to Federal policy for cannabis.

On August 29, 2013, the Department of Justice published a memorandum authored by Cole which described a new set of priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states which had legalized the medical or other use of cannabis.

The 2013 memorandum represented a significant shift of government priorities away from strict enforcement of federal cannabis prohibition and toward a more hands-off approach in the case of "jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana."

The memorandum was rescinded by a one-page memo signed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on January 4, 2018.

AG Barr and the Rescinded Cole Memo:
“I am accepting the Cole Memorandum for now, but I have generally left it up to the U.S. Attorneys in each state to determine what the best approach is in that state,” A.G. Barr further testified during the hearing. "I haven’t heard any complaints from the states that have legalized marijuana." (Attorney General William Barr testified during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10th 2019.)

AG Barr would have to issue a new version of the “Cole Memo” with his signature for it to be a valid federal advisory.

Secretary Kunkel and Senator Ortiz y Pino have been suggesting that our state is violating the “diversion of cannabis to another state”, part of the Rescinded Cole Memo. They have both misunderstood what “diversion of cannabis” means. (From the DEA: Drug diversion is a medical and legal concept involving the transfer of any legally prescribed controlled substance from the individual for whom it was prescribed to another person for any illicit use.)

The Rescinded Cole Memo was referencing the diversion of cannabis for illicit purposes. And that is not happening here. The 615 plus people are legal medical cannabis patients buying from legal medical cannabis dispensaries.

Senator Candelaria said the state should not be so worried about the U.S. Justice Department as it has not indicated it would crack down on medical cannabis states, during the Senate floor debate.

Senator Cliff Pirtle said during the Senate floor debate, “Keep in mind, there’s 11 states that have recreational cannabis. The Feds have done nothing to them.”


The CJS Budget Amendment Provides The Only Protection And Is The Only Active Federal Policy Passed In Law For Cannabis.

Congress approved a budget amendment that prohibits Justice Department funds from being used to prevent states from implementing medical cannabis laws. Texas is part of this and is consider to have a medical cannabis program like ours in New Mexico by the Federal Government.

Known as the Rohrabacher-Farr or CJS amendment, it first signed into law on December 16, 2014. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment doesn’t just prevent direct interference with state implementation; it should also end federal medical cannabis raids, arrests, criminal prosecutions, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits, as well as providing current medical cannabis prisoners with a way to petition for their release.

The Senate sent President Trump Fiscal Year 2020 spending legislation that continues the CJS budget rider protecting state medical cannabis laws from federal interference.

Protection for state medical cannabis laws, are provided in the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment (also known as the CJS Medical Cannabis amendment), in Section 538 of the “omnibus” federal appropriations bill.

Every year, the federal budget in the US Congress (“omnibus” appropriations bill) includes this rider that continues to bar the DOJ from enforcing the federal ban on cannabis due to it’s Schedule 1 status in some circumstances pertaining to states who enact their own medical cannabis laws.

Here is the full text of the budget rider:
“SEC. 538. None of the funds made available under 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.”

Interesting fact, our Governor’s last vote as a member of Congress involving medical cannabis policy was a “No” vote for the March 22nd 2018 omnibus budget containing that very budget rider for protecting our state’s program. A "No" Vote.

So this legislative session our Governor has decided she wants to take away access from 615 plus participants in the medical cannabis program. And our Governor has also decided not to allow Senate Bill 276, Medical Cannabis in Schools, which affects over 250 public school students in the medical cannabis program (also sponsored by Senator Ortiz y Pino) to fix the law being broken by the PED.

Please Vote No or Table Senate Bill 139.

Respectfully,

Jason Barker

Sources/Resources: 
Medical cannabis qualified patient bill moves to the House
https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2020/02/16/medical-cannabis-qualified-patient-bill-moves-to-the-house/

Medical cannabis residency bill approved by Senate
https://www.abqjournal.com/1421228/medical-cannabis-residency-bill-approved-by-senate.html  

Governor’s Legalization Group Recommendations Open The Door To Federal Interference
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2019/12/governors-legalization-group.html 

Federal Marijuana Law
https://www.safeaccessnow.org/federal_marijuana_law 


[ About Jason Barker: He is an advocate for Elevate the Spectrum Inc. and for Safe Access New Mexico, an Affiliate of Americans For Safe Access; a freelance writer for Cannabis News Journal; and a medical cannabis patient in New Mexico.

Of the new health conditions added to the medical cannabis program 2018-2019, 5 of those new ones are from the Petitions submitted to the Dept. of Health for Safe Access New Mexico.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Dec. 2018)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (June 2019
Three Degenerative Neurological Disorders: Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (June 2019)

Jason lives in Albuquerque with his dog, Tecumseh, who has a very severe case of canine epilepsy. Jason’s work has focused solely on medical cannabis issues, decriminalization of cannabis, hemp policy and does not work on legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes or other illicit drug issues.

*Mr. Barker is not paid or employed in the medical cannabis industry nor does he have any financial interest in the medical cannabis industry or in a future recreational cannabis industry.]