Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Second Session of the 54th Legislature | Recreational Cannabis Legalization Policy Report 2019-2020


The Second Session of the 54th Legislature | Recreational Cannabis Legalization Policy Report 2019-2020




Safe Access New Mexico does not support the recreational legalization bill state legislators and Drug Policy Alliance have planned for the 2020 legislative session as it will cause great harm to the current medical cannabis program. And we will not support that type of policy until the discrimination against children and others in the Medical Cannabis Program has ended and legislation is passed into law Repairing and Expanding the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2007.
“For starters, she (Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham) wants the medical marijuana program protected in any legislation legalizing a commercial marijuana industry.”
‘Legal pot or not? A New Mexico debate’ | ABQ Journal | https://www.abqjournal.com/1264970/legal-pot-or-not.html

In 2019 we saw the push for Recreational Cannabis Legalization start with the Governor’s Office creating it’s Legalization Working Group. There was no merit based selection process open to the public when they created this Working Group in June 2019. All the people from the medical cannabis industry on this working group are also all the same businesses who make up the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (https://nmcannabischamber.org/leadership) and they all contributed large sums of money to the Governor's campaign in 2018.
The Working Group was and exclusive group riddled with conflicts of interests.

The Governor’s Legalization Work Group’s report includes a very serious fatal flaw that will devastate New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. The group recommends adopting a new model for a joint medical-adult use program, and its report says no other state has a model like this.

And there is a very good reason why no other state has that model, as it will ruin any medical cannabis program in any state because it is a system of regulation built on the backs of current medical cannabis laws. Cannabis policy experts from Americans For Safe Access have noted that recreational cannabis use and medical cannabis use only have the criminal justice system in common.

A joint medical-adult use program will result in the destruction of the medical cannabis program because its regulation and supply chain are not designed for a joint program.

Representative Javier Martinez told NM Political Report that his intention is to “ensure social equity and that cannabis patients have enough affordable medicine.”

The timeline for Social Equity in the Cannabis Regulation Act does not happen until 2022, putting those candidates at a severe disadvantage trying to enter the new industry. Social Equity is only a carrot on a stick in this bill.

Nor does the Cannabis Regulation Act provide the medical cannabis program with “adequate supply” of medical cannabis products for patients, the bill actually allows the Recreational Consumer to have more possession rights and more buying power over the medical cannabis community.

Today the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has over 80,257 registered participants, the 34 licensed producers are now growing 39,400 cannabis plants in a 3-5 month cycle which only provides ½ (half) of a medical cannabis plant worth of medicine per patient - And the Cannabis Regulation Act wants allow anyone over 21 yrs old to access that already very limited supply. The Cannabis Regulation Act needs to be amended with its own set of producers for growing and and its own separate plant count and its own separate dispensary system.

The Governor also promised to increase the program’s adequate supply for the current producers and to license new ones and that did not happen in 2019.

New Mexico hasn't ever done any research into medical cannabis production and dosage for the medical cannabis program for establishing a cannabis plant count to provide “Adequate Supply”, and there is even an excellent medical cannabis research program at UNM that could do this for the state.

It makes complete sense for the state of New Mexico to know how much cannabis they will need to grow for the medical cannabis program before trying to legalize recreational cannabis. 
Right now the state has no idea.

New Mexico needs to fix the medical cannabis program before passing a recreational cannabis law, period.


Timeline of Polling for Recreational Cannabis in New Mexico:

2019 Poll commissioned by Governor’s Legalization Work Group conducted by Change Research based in San Francisco Bay area:
73% of New Mexico voters support legalization/ 52% percent supporting it "strongly”
While only 39% of those surveyed said they are "very or somewhat likely to purchase cannabis products themselves.
The poll was conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.
Link to poll: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/poll-most-new-mexicans-support-legalizing-recreational-pot/article_fe8aab3e-22b0-11ea-a3e9-cb717a696699.html


2019 Poll by Emerson College says 63% of New Mexico voters are opposed to full legalization. It also found 42% supported keeping just medical cannabis. A nonpartisan nonprofit called Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) says lawmakers should take notice.


2019 Poll: State of New York Poll for comparison and this is a state that if far more progressive than New Mexico.
A poll found that New York voters support legalizing marijuana, 58%-38%.
https://scri.siena.edu/2020/01/21/overwhelming-support-for-a-dozen-of-cuomos-state-of-the-state-proposals/


2018 Poll commissioned by The Albuquerque Journal conducted by Research & Polling Inc. based in Albuquerque:
60% of New Mexico voters supported legalization, 32% Opposed Legalization, 6% Had Mixed Feelings About It, and 1% Didn’t Know.
The poll was conducted Sept. 7-13 2018. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
Link to poll: https://www.abqjournal.com/1223550/nm-voters-back-legal-marijuana.html


2018 Poll commissioned by State representative Martinez and Drug Policy Alliance conducted by Research & Polling Inc. based in Albuquerque:
The poll done in March 2018, said that 63% of New Mexico adults support legalization. This poll had a statewide sample of 420 adults, not just registered voters.
This poll was paid for by a “coalition supporting marijuana legalization”.
Link to poll: https://www.abqjournal.com/1175325/nm-survey-shows-63-percent-of-adults-favor-pot-legalization.html


2016 Poll was a telephone survey of 406 adults around the state was conducted by Research & Polling Inc. of Albuquerque and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance and a coalition of groups including licensed marijuana producers:
61% of New Mexicans supported legalization when this poll was conducted.
Link to poll: www.abqjournal.com/713824/poll-3-out-of-5-new-mexicans-support-marijuana-legalization.html


2019 National Polling About Cannabis: A Pew Research poll which involved phone interviews with about 9,900 adults from September 3-15, found that 67 percent of respondents think cannabis should be legal. That’s five percentage points higher than Pew’s last poll on the issue in 2018, and it closely reflects the percent support for legalization that Gallup reported (66 percent) in a survey released last month.

According to the results of a new question Pew asked for the first time that gave respondents multiple policy options to choose from, 91 percent of Americans said that marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational purposes: Fifty nine percent said both forms should be legal and 32 percent said it should only be legal for medical use.
https://www.marijuanamoment.net/support-for-marijuana-legalization-increased-again-in-2019-pew-poll-finds/


Third party polling data for recreational cannabis legalization shows a 12-13% difference for the Support of Legalization in New Mexico, as compared to the new poll out by the Governor’s Legalization Work Group which shows a very questionable jump in the polls to 73% supporting legalization in the state. The Governor’s Legalization Work Group poll is also showing “Support for Legalization” to be 9% higher than nationwide polling for Pew Research and Gallup. That’s called a Push Poll.

Also of note, all previous polling conducted for recreational cannabis legalization in New Mexico were conducted by Research & Polling Inc. based in Albuquerque. While the new poll out by the Governor’s Legalization Work Group was conducted by Change Research based in San Francisco Bay area. Change Research is a favorite of Democratic party political candidates as well and Change boast about this on their website.

In Conclusion:
If lawmakers in New Mexico are going to take on the Failed War on Drugs in 2020, then please finish what you started with Medical Cannabis in 1978.

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. Later renamed The Lynn Pierson Marijuana & Research Act set forth a program that had over 250 New Mexicans receiving medical cannabis..

Also consider this: 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 states medical cannabis program to date. Even our neighbor to the north, in Colorado’s medical cannabis program has seen over a 19% decline in participation in recent years. And in Illinois in 2020, after only two weeks of recreational cannabis sales, medical cannabis patients started facing shortages for their medicine that could last more than six months.

Lawmakers can defer recreational cannabis to a special session in the fall of 2020, if the proponents are right about the financial gains for the state then recreational cannabis sales will easily cover the state’s cost at doing the special session for legalization.

Like please focus on how the Medical Cannabis in Schools law passed this year is being ignored by the PED and all the Schools keeping kids who are medical cannabis patients from being able to attend their school.

The last 10 years of trying and failing to legalize recreational cannabis has interfered with the medical program operation due to the fact of how attempts at recreational cannabis legislation have taken up a lot more legislative time when compared to any medical cannabis bills filed over those 9 years - legislative time during the floor sessions, time in committees and when out of session time spent with interim committees and meetings about recreational cannabis as compared to any thing for the medical cannabis program in the legislature in the last 9 years.

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 19% decline in participation in recent years. And in Illinois in 2020, after only two weeks of recreational cannabis sales, medical cannabis patients started facing shortages for their medicine.

Amending and fixing the medical cannabis in school law should be a 2020 legislative priority before recreational cannabis legalization, according to that promise made by the Governor. And I have even taken the liberty of writing an amended SB-204 mock bill, providing it to last year’s bills sponsors. Hopefully the Governor allows them to do their duty as elected officials.

New Mexico needs to fix the medical cannabis program before passing a recreational cannabis law, period.


By Jason Barker
Medical cannabis patient and advocate with Safe Access New Mexico


Appendix: What other medical cannabis patients are saying...
‘Dad pleads for medical cannabis’ | Friday, November 22nd, 2019 | ABQ Journal | https://www.abqjournal.com/1394537/dad-pleads-for-medical-cannabis.html


"New Mexico as it stands just does not have the logistics for recreation, said Chad Lozano, secretary of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patients Advocate Alliance.”
‘Medical cannabis experts caution against New Mexico’s push to legalize recreationally’ | ABC 7 KVIA | https://kvia.com/news/2019/12/23/medical-cannabis-experts-caution-against-new-mexicos-push-to-legalize-recreationally/


‘Medical marijuana users struggle to keep up with costs’ | Nov. 2019 | ABQ Journal | https://www.abqjournal.com/1386640/medical-marijuana-users-struggle-to-keep-up-with-costs.html


“Josh McCurdy with the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patients Advocate Alliance said the state should focus on making sure patients in rural areas have access to cannabis before branching out to recreational legalization. McCurdy lives in Ruidoso and said many dispensaries in his area have a hard time keeping up with demand.”
‘Mixed responses to suggestions from marijuana legalization work group’ | NM Political Report | https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2019/10/17/mixed-responses-to-suggestions-from-legalization-work-group/



Resources for Policy Makers by Americans For Safe AccessInformation for policy makers on drafting and implementing patient-centric medical cannabis legislation and regulations, including state-by-state guides and comparison charts.
https://www.safeaccessnow.org/policy_shop 




[ About Jason Barker: He is an advocate 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 structural 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.]