Press Release  | 02/04/2005

New Mexico Legislature to Consider Access to Medical Marijuana

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Bill Would Allow Seriously Ill Patients to Obtain this Medicine Only with a Recommendation from their Doctor
Advocates: 81% of New Mexico Voters Support Legal Access to Medical Marijuana; Federal Institute of Medicine Has Endorsed Its Medicinal Value

SANTA FE--February 4, 2005 New Mexico legislators will consider a measure that would allow seriously sick and dying patients to use medical marijuana for relief of their symptoms. Sponsored by Senator Cisco McSorley, the law would require a patient to receive a written recommendation for medical marijuana from his or her doctor. The Department of Health would be responsible for approving patient applications, issuing ID cards, and maintaining a confidential patient registry. The Department would also promulgate rules for a licensed distribution system to allow patients access without forcing them to buy marijuana illegally.

"This is about giving patients access to medicine that has been documented to reduce nausea, control pain, and increase appetite," said Senator McSorley. "For some patients, nothing else has worked to relieve their pain and suffering. They should have this option."

81% of New Mexico voters support making medical marijuana available to seriously or terminally ill patients in order to reduce their pain and suffering from illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. "This is a winning issue for elected officials. The public supports it, and it's the humane thing to do," said Reena Szczepanski, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. "I have met so many patients whose stories are heartbreaking. These people desperately need access to this medicine to ease their symptoms, and for some, to stay alive."

What: Press Conference
Who: Senator Cisco McSorley
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino
Reena Szczepanski, Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Others to Be Announced
Where: State Capitol, Room 303
When: Monday, February 7, 10:30 AM

6,370 New Mexicans are diagnosed with cancer each year. Over 1800 New Mexicans are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Not all eligible patients will elect to use medical marijuana, but this legislation's goal is to make the option available to them.

"I use medical marijuana because it relieves my pain without the harmful side effects of pharmaceuticals," said Fred MacDonald, a New Mexico resident and a disabled veteran who is living with multiple sclerosis and a partial spinal cord injury. "With medical marijuana, I am able to function and live a more productive lifestyle."

Many other medical organizations have also endorsed medical marijuana, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the New Mexico Nurses' Association, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Attorneys General.

36 States and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value, and ten states currently allow patients legal access to medical marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington). In states that allow medical marijuana, recreational use among youth has not increased, nor has there been any increase in recreational marijuana use among the adult population.





Reena Szczepanski at (505) 983 3277 or Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026

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