Pubdate: Thu, 16 Nov 2006
Source: Ruidoso News (NM)
Copyright: 2006 Ruidoso News
Author: Julie Roberts, Policy Assistant, Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The staff at Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico had the wonderful
opportunity of visiting Ruidoso on Nov. 4 and holding a medical
marijuana community forum. Ruidoso is truly a charming and beautiful
town and we enjoyed our visit - I just wish we could have stayed longer!

Ruidoso community members gathered at the Ruidoso Public Library to
learn about legislation to be proposed in 2007 that would provide
legal access to medical marijuana in New Mexico. The forum was
coordinated by the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, the state's
leading organization advocating for patients' rights and public health.

"Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion for the seriously ill and
dying in New Mexico," said Reena Szczepanski, Director of Drug Policy
Alliance New Mexico. "New Mexicans have showed widespread support for
this lifesaving legislation, with 81 percent of New Mexico voters
supporting legislation that would allow seriously ill patients to use
medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation."

Research acknowledges the medical benefit of cannabis for the
seriously ill. The Congressionally Chartered Institute of Medicine
released a 1999 report that affirmed the medical value of marijuana
for alleviating pain, increasing appetite and decreasing nausea.
Ruidoso residents had the opportunity to ask questions regarding
medical marijuana and the upcoming legislation. In 2005 and 2006, The
Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, sponsored by Senator Cisco
McSorley, came close to passing the Legislature but failed to receive
a House floor vote in both years. In 2006, the bill passed the Senate
34-6 with broad, bipartisan support. For the next legislative session,
2007 will be the year that New Mexico joins 12 other states in showing
compassion for seriously ill and dying patients.

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act would allow doctors to
recommend medical marijuana for patients suffering from six serious
medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
These recommendations would be summarized in an application form that
the medical provider would submit to the Department of Health. If the
application was approved, the patient and their caregiver would
receive an identification card. The bill carefully addresses the need
for dispensing the medication and calls for the state to license the
production, distribution, and dispensing of this medication for
patients. This regulation by the Department of Health will ensure a
safe and controlled method for providing medical marijuana to patients.

Attendees of the forum expressed enthusiasm and support for the
passage of the bill. Community members pledged their help to ensure
that policymakers become educated about the issue. Some shared
heartfelt personal stories about family members who had benefited from
medical marijuana in states that permit its use. Others said that they
supported the issue because they want legal access to any medication
that their doctor recommended, should they become ill.

Valerie Hubbard, an 18 year resident of Ruidoso and office manager and
advocate with DPA New Mexico, commented, "The proposed medical
marijuana legislation is about protecting and caring for people in our
communities. This is a nonpartisan issue and has wide support among
both Democrats and Republicans in our state. Providing patients access
to medical marijuana is about reason, compassion and justice, not
political affiliation"

Both local and national organizations support legislation that would
protect medical marijuana patients, including national organizations
such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Bar
Association and The American Nurses Association. Local organizations
showing support include the New Mexico Public Health Association,
Health Action New Mexico and the Catholic Diocese of Gallup.

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico thanks everyone who came to the forum,
and we encourage Ruidoso to continue their interest and support of
medical marijuana legislation. New Mexicans can take action by meeting
or calling their legislators and discussing their perspectives on
medical marijuana legislation. You may also log onto Drug Policy
Alliance New Mexico's Web site at for more
information on medical marijuana and how to get involved in the
upcoming legislative session. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake