Following a seven-year fight to pass legislation, New Mexico's landmark medical cannabis law is set to go into effect this coming Sunday, July 1st.
According to the state law, the Department of Health must issue rules and regulations by October 1st advising the state-licensed production and distribution of medical marijuana for registered patients. The production and distribution of medical cannabis overseen by the Department would ensure a safe and secure supply of medicine for patients, particularly for those individuals who do not know where or how to access cannabis.
"New Mexico did the right thing by guaranteeing the protection of patients under state law," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico "As we've seen in other states that allow medical marijuana, the federal government very rarely arrests or prosecutes qualified and registered patients."
New Mexico is the twelfth state to endorse the use of medical cannabis and only the fourth state legislature to enact such a measure. Gov. Bill Richardson, who signed the bill in April, is the first presidential candidate to have supported medical marijuana by signing it into law.
The hallmark of New Mexico's medical marijuana law is its strict controls and safeguards to prevent abuse. It will be one of the most tightly regulated programs in the country.
Qualified patients whose doctors believe they would benefit from the medicinal use of cannabis will finally be protected as the New Mexico Department of Health issues the first patient identification cards next week. Applications for identification cards for both patients and their primary caregivers will be available July 1st at the Department of Health's website, www.nmhealth.org
. The law protects qualified patients suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, spinal cord injury with intractable spasticity, or admittance into hospice care, to use medical cannabis for relief of their symptoms.
For questions regarding qualification for the program or the application process, please contact Melissa Milam with the Department of Health at (505) 827-2321.