AP NEWS

State should follow its own medical cannabis law

November 13, 2017 GMT

The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis by the state. This is not being followed or fulfilled, because the state is not accepting recommendations made by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The advisory board consists of eight practitioners in the fields of neurology, pain management, medical oncology, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine and gynecology. The practitioners are all nationally board-certified experts in their area of specialty and knowledgeable about the medical use of cannabis.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board duties and responsibilities, according to the medical cannabis program law, says, “the advisory board shall convene at least twice per year to: review and recommend to the [New Mexico Department of Health] for approval additional debilitating medical conditions that would benefit from the medical use of cannabis; recommend quantities of cannabis that are necessary to constitute an adequate supply for qualified patients and primary caregivers; accept and review petitions to add medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for the medical use of cannabis and all lawful privileges under the act and implementing rules; issue recommendations concerning rules to be promulgated for the issuance of registry identification cards; and review conditions previously reviewed by the board and approved by the secretary for the purpose of determining whether to recommend the revision of eligibility criteria for persons applying under those conditions or to review new medical and scientific evidence pertaining to currently approved conditions.”

At the April 2017 meeting, the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommended that the state Department of Health add these new health conditions into the program: autism, anxiety, depression, dystonia, migraines, sleep disorders, patient-run collectives, change/increase patient possession limit to 16 ounces, and for the “Removal of Max THC Content” imposed on concentrates. The Department of Health rejected all these recommendations made by nationally board-certified medical experts.

At the Nov. 3 meeting, the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommended that the Department of Health add these new health conditions into the program: attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, degenerative neurological disorder, neuroprotective applications, eczema, psoriasis, muscular dystrophy, post-concussion syndrome and traumatic brain injury, all types of seizures, substance abuse disorders and opioid use disorder. Once more, the New Mexico Department of Health has final say in following these recommendations by medical doctors.

The state of New Mexico is not a licensed medical doctor or practitioner, and the state of New Mexico has been and currently is practicing medicine without a license by denying the recommendations of the established medical cannabis advisory board.

The Attorney General’s Office in New Mexico should direct the state of New Mexico to follow and fulfill the Lynn And Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2007; under chapter 210, Senate Bill 523 and maintain the spirit of the law.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978, after public hearings the Legislature enacted HB 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis — the first law.

Jason Barker is an activist and organizer of LECUA Patient’s Coalition Of New Mexico and activist and member of Americans For Safe Access and American Cannabis Nurses Association. He lives in Albuquerque.