Pubdate: Sun, 06 Mar 2016
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2016 Albuquerque Journal


What if the lawmakers who advocated for the Lynn and Erin 
Compassionate Use Act back in 2007 had proposed providing medical 
marijuana for the vague diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder? 
And what if they had suggested allowing nonprofit producers to be 
fronts for for-profit growers? And what if they had contemplated 
partnerships that turn tribal lands into huge pot farms?

Well, somebody would probably have said they were high. But in the 
realm of unintended consequences, all of those money-driven 
expansions have happened or are in the works.

Back in 2007, there were seven qualifying conditions established by 
statute for a medical marijuana prescription - cancer, glaucoma, 
multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and 
admission to hospice care. Now there are more than 20, with the 
hardest-to-pinpoint diagnoses the most popular. Back in 2008, there 
were 182 patients; now there are around 19,000. Who would be 
surprised if that number quadruples in a few years, with efforts to 
force insurance companies and Medicaid to pay for medical marijuana? 
Like the street pot hawkers say in Venice Beach, "Get legal and fly 
like the eagle."

Back in 2007, a "licensed producer" meant "any person or association 
of persons within New Mexico that the department determines to be 
qualified to produce, possess, distribute and dispense cannabis 
pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act and that is 
licensed by the department." Now at least one of those so-called 
licensed producers, New Mexico Top Organics, isn't producing anything 
except a contract with the for-profit, Arizona-based Ultra Health LLC 
and its 11-acre growing facility in Bernalillo.

Ultra Health is run by former New Mexico Human Services Department 
Secretary Duke Rodriguez, who says openly that the nonprofit model is 
"window dressing," and he hopes to replicate his $5 million pot farm 
partnership with Nevada's Paiute tribe with a pueblo here, as well as 
gear up production for legalized recreational marijuana in New Mexico.

In great part because of the state Health Department's long-time 
secrecy around this program - it finally released producers names 
last week - New Mexico has quite literally stumbled into an expanding 
multimillion-dollar industry focused on supplying a substance still 
considered illegal under federal law.

Perhaps an argument can be made that as a society we are better off 
stoned. But that wasn't really the goal of New Mexico's 2007 medical 
marijuana act. What has happened since may not violate the letter of 
the law, but you'd have to be high to argue it doesn't violate the intent.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom