Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) signed legislation into law this week ordering the establishment of a statewide medicinal cannabis distribution program.
Senate Bill 523, the "Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act," mandates the state Department of Health 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" and "define the amount of cannabis that is necessary to constitute an adequate supply" for qualified patients.
The Department of Health is ordered to establish the program by October 1, 2007. Patients will not be permitted to cultivate their own medical cannabis under the program.
Governor Richardson, who lobbied for the bill's passage, said: "This law will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases. It is the right thing to do."
New Mexico is the twelfth state since 1996 to enact legislation protecting medical cannabis patients from arrest and state criminal prosecution, though it is only the fourth to do so legislatively.