HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Marijuana Bill Tabled by House
Pubdate: Sun, 12 Feb 2006
Source: Farmington Daily Times (NM)
Copyright: 2006 Farmington Daily Times
Author: Walter Rubel, Santa Fe Bureau Chief
FOR: Joseph Cervantes
Andy Nunez
Ray Begaye
AGAINST: Joe Stell
Richard P. Cheney
Sandra Townsend
Don Tripp
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


SANTA FE -- Rep. Joseph Cervantes, R-Las Cruces, alleged that a 
medical marijuana bill that passed earlier this session in the Senate 
was sent to the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee to die.

And that's exactly what happened Saturday.

The committee tabled the bill on a 4-3 decision, with Committee 
Chairman Joe Stell, D-Carlsbad, casting the deciding vote. By tabling 
the bill, the committee will prevent it from advancing to the House 
floor for a vote

"Why are you trying to kill us," Essie DeBonet wailed after the 
committee's decision.

DeBonet identified herself as a 61-year-old AIDS patient dealing with 
constant nausea. She said use of medical marijuana allows her to keep 
down the food she needs to stay alive.

But a number of law enforcement officers, including federal drug 
control officers from Washington, D.C., opposed the bill, saying it 
would lead to abuse of the drug.

In casting the deciding vote, Stell said New Mexico is a part of the 
federal union. Others voting against the bill also said they did not 
want to violate federal law.

Cervantes, who is a member of the committee, questioned why the bill 
was sent there in the first place. He noted that it had nothing to do 
with water, and very little to do with agriculture.

"This bill is here for a reason. It's been sent here to kill it," 
Cervantes said. "The assumption is that because everybody on this 
committee is from rural New Mexico, we're a conservative lot; and a 
conservative lot will kill this bill. And I think that's unfortunate."

Cervantes, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said any legal 
problems in the bill could have been considered there. He noted that 
on Friday, all 70 members of the House heard a bill to declare the 
official "state cowboy song." He said the medical marijuana bill 
should get at least the same consideration.

"This issue is important enough that all 70 of us should hear it," 
Cervantes said.

Rep. Andy Nunez, D-Hatch, apparently agreed. Even though he argued 
against the bill, Nunez moved that it be allowed to advance with a 
"no recommendation" from the committee. But before a vote could be 
taken, Rep. Richard Cheney, R-Farmington, moved that the bill be tabled.

The tabling motion was approved with Reps. Cheney, Stell, Sandra 
Townsend, R-Aztec, and Don Tripp, R-Socorro, voting in favor. 
Cervantes, Nunez and Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, voted against the 
tabling motion.

Cheney said that cancer has touched everybody in the room, and that 
his best friend had died of cancer. But he said lawmakers should not 
be swayed by emotion when making such decisions. 
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