HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marijuana Bill Clears Two Committees
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Feb 2001
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)
Copyright: 2001 The Santa Fe New Mexican
Contact:  202 E Marcy, Santa Fe, N.M. 87501
Fax: (505) 986-3040
Author: Steve Terrell, The New Mexican


Bills that would legalize marijuana for sufferers of certain medical 
conditions cleared major hurdles Tuesday, getting favorable recommendations 
and bipartisan support from two legislative committees.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously approved a do-pass 
recommendation for Senate Bill 319, sponsored by Sen. Roman Maes.

Earlier in the day, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 
6-3 to recommend an identical bill, HB431, sponsored by Rep. Joe Thompson, 

The committees voted in favor of the bills despite concerns expressed by 
representatives of law enforcement groups who opposed the bills, saying the 
possibility of abuse was too high.

"I am not worried about abuse," said Allen Hurt, R-Waterflow. Referring to 
patients who would benefit from medical marijuana, Hurt, who is a 
physician, said, "These aren't addictive personalities. These are people 
who are sick."

Dr. Steve Jenison - a physician administrator with the Infectious Diseases 
Bureau of the state Health Department - told that some people suffering 
from the effects of chemotherapy and diseases such as AIDS are effectively 
treated by smoking marijuana. Nine other states have provisions for medical 
marijuana use.

Several patients testified Tuesday that marijuana has been effective. John 
Paul Archuleta, a former state corrections officer, told both committees 
that nearly three-quarters of his stomach has been removed, which makes him 
suffer severe nausea. Smoking marijuana in the morning helps him, he said.

Former Santa Fe City Councilor Maurice Bonal, now a liquor-license broker, 
told the Senate committee that his mother broke her hip last year. Her 
prescribed painkillers did not work, Bonal said, but a "magic formula," 
salve with marijuana in it eased her pain.

"This is an 80-year-old mother who is not a criminal," he said.

The bills, each dubbed "The Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act," is 
part of Gov. Gary Johnson's drug-reform package.

Both bills would allow the Department of Health to establish a program in 
which patients who think they might need therapeutic marijuana would 
consult with their doctors, then apply to the Health Department, which 
would decide whether the patient would qualify for the program.

A task force of the Health Department would set up specific policies of the 
medical marijuana program.

Because of federal law, doctors in the state would not be allowed to 
directly prescribe marijuana for their patients. Still to be resolved is 
how patients would obtain the marijuana - and if the state would take on 
the task of distributing it or relegating that to a non-profit or to a 
health-care organization.

The bills must now go to their house's respective judiciary committees.
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