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New Mexico Approves 5 Medical Marijuana Producers


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The New Mexico Department of Health has approved five producers that can produce and dispense medical marijuana for pre-approved patients, officials said Monday.
The health department approved the first producer earlier this year, which began dispensing cannabis in July, and recently approved four new applicants. Twenty-one additional producer applications are pending.

Officials are keeping confidential the names and locations of the licensed producers; they are known only to state regulators and patients who use them.

"We are the first state to develop this kind of distribution system for medical cannabis, and we will continue to proceed carefully with the development of the program so we can meet the needs of our patients while not creating an excess supply," Dr. Alfredo Vigil, the state's health secretary, said in Santa Fe. "The medical cannabis program is for people who cannot get relief from their suffering from any other means. We are very proud of the program's success so far."

Efforts to get similar state legislation passed in Texas have been unsuccessful so far. During the Texas 81st Legislature, state Rep. Elliot Naishtat, D-Austin, introduced House Bill 164, which would permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Texas.

The legislation was referred to the Public Health Committee in February, but did not advance beyond the committee before the session adjourned in June, according to the state's bill tracking service.

Retired DEA official Phil Jordan, a former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center, said authorizing the use of medical marijuana is bad public policy.
"The marijuana available today is much more potent than it was in the past," Jordan said. "It is a known gateway drug to harder drugs. It seems like we're throwing in the towel instead of trying to protect the younger generation from the ill effects of marijuana.

"More to the point, I would not want to have surgery in New Mexico, where a doctor or a medical assistant under the influence of pot might operate on me."

Chris Minnick, spokesman for the department, said New Mexico's health department is not getting involved in determining the quality of the marijuana its licensed producers offer, or how producers obtain their supplies, such as seeds and plants.

Patients who receive permission to obtain medical marijuana also can apply for a license to produce their own cannabis, Minnick said.

The department has approved 809 patients since the program began in 2007; eight of them have since died.

Under the current rules, a nonprofit producer in New Mexico could supply medical cannabis to as many as 100 patients. Producers are allowed to have 95 mature plants and seedlings, and maintain an inventory of usable medical cannabis for patients.

Patients are allowed to possess six ounces of medical cannabis.

For patients to qualify, a doctor must certify that they have one of the 15 conditions or ailments that are debilitating and cannot be helped by standard treatments.

The qualifying conditions include: severe chronic pain, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea/vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and hospice patients.

News Hawk- Weedpipe 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News
Author: Diana Washington Valdez
Contact: Las Cruces Sun-News
Copyright: 2008 Media News group
Website:New Mexico approves 5 medical marijuana producers
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