Santa Fe, NM: The New Mexico legislature approved legislation this week that seeks to establish a statewide medicinal cannabis distribution program.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 523, a substitute bill that is virtually identical to the "Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act." House members had narrowly rejected a similar proposal last week.
On Wednesday, the Senate concurred with a minor House floor amendment, sending the bill to the governor for his approval.
As proposed, Senate Bill 523 mandates the state Department of Health by October 1, 2007, to promulgate rules governing the use and distribution of medical cannabis to state-authorized patients. These rules shall address the creation of state-licensed "cannabis production facilities," the development of a confidential patient registry and a state-authorized marijuana distribution system, and "define the amount of cannabis that is necessary to constitute an adequate supply" for qualified patients.
Governor Bill Richardson, who worked closely with the House to persuade members to reconsider the bill, is expected to sign the measure into law. "This bill will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases while including the proper safeguards to prevent abuse," he said. "I am pleased that the legislature did the right thing, reconsidered this important bill and supported a humane option for New Mexicans who endure some of the most painful diseases imaginable."
If approved, New Mexico will become the twelfth state to enact medical marijuana legislation since 1996, though it will be only the fourth to do so legislatively.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, or visit: http://www.drugpolicyalliance.org.