Sunday, February 05, 2012
Governor Suz Pushes For Medical Cannabis Fund
The following is from Guest Blogger; Peter Moulson.
If you don’t know the history, hearing that the Governor backs SB 240, the bill that would create a Medical Cannabis Fund for New Mexico, might sound a little incongruous. But it seems that everybody is behind it, from the Secretary of the Department of Health who testified in support of the bill on Thursday in the Senate Conservation Committee alongside the Senate sponsor, Cisco McSorley, to politicians of every stripe.
“It’s a Governor’s bill, I want to emphasize that” said Senator McSorley. “The Secretary says she’s expecting 8,000–10,000 patients by the end of this year, and she didn’t have the revenue stream to recruit the personnel to review the recommendations made by the medical board.”
New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis law was passed in 2007, allowing patients to request this medication from their doctor. If the doctor agrees, the matter is passed to a medical board who may recommend that the Department of Health enroll the patient in the Medical Cannabis Program.
Senator McSorley spoke with pride about New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis program. “It is looked at as a national model because we’re a state licensed system with excellent controls. The U.S. Department of Justice has been sending [warning] letters to others states whose systems are not so tightly run. We have not received any such letter.”
The proposed Medical Cannabis Fund would collect the fees charged mainly to regulated, licensed producers in New Mexico, and direct them to the Department of Health to increase their staffing levels to match increased patient demand. And what’s more, the producers appear happy to pay the significant fees because they see the benefits to the patients.
Emily Kaltenbach of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico office clarifies that “A fund dedicated to the program will ensure there is no delay in processing patient applications, and will help patients who are suffering from serious illnesses not otherwise alleviated by prescription medication to enroll in the program.
“This would mean the Department of Health could collect upwards of $500,000 in fees in Fiscal Year 2013 which will allow the DoH to answer the phones and process the necessary paperwork. A portion of this fund can also be used to help educate the medical community on the effectiveness of the program. This fund will be created to protect the patient’s health needs. It’s safe access to safe medicine.”
In a rare bi-partisan show of support, the bill passed out of this committee with a unanimous affirmative vote.