Santa Fe – Yesterday Senate Bill 406 was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham. The measure, sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo) and Representative Deborah Armstrong (D-Bernalillo), will expand access to medical cannabis in New Mexico. Currently many medical cannabis patients still face discrimination and lack access to their medicine.
This bill makes changes that establish civil protections for medical care, schooling, child custody and employment. It will lead to improved access to safe and affordable medical cannabis for all New Mexicans who need it.
The legislation is the result of a process that began last year with a statewide task force that examined the state’s medical cannabis program. New Mexicans who rely on medical cannabis often find that it is either inaccessible or unaffordable. Access to medical cannabis for patients living in rural areas and on tribal lands is especially difficult.
Statement from Jessica Gelay, Policy Manager, Drug Policy Alliance:
“The medical cannabis program is well established in New Mexico, but patients still encounter discrimination in daily life. This will improve the program by updating the law so that medical cannabis patients are not stigmatized for lawfully using their medicine. It goes a long way toward ensuring that patients’ basic needs – like access to schooling, medical care and employment – are not jeopardized because cannabis is their medicine.”
Elements of SB 406:
Ensures that people who are on probation, parole, or who are in custody are not punished for using medical cannabis.
There are more than 70,000 patients in the New Mexico medical cannabis program whose quality of life is improved with access to medical cannabis, often when nothing else works.
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (LECUA) has not been updated since it was passed in 2007. A similar bill was vetoed by Susana Martinez in 2017.