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New Mexico - Proposed Medical Marijuana Changes Draw Criticism

The General

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So many people showed up to give the New Mexico Department of Health an earful about proposed medical marijuana changes, some had to be turned away. Many people claim the proposal would destroy a program that is helping thousands of New Mexicans. Monday's public hearing lasted from 9 — 4 p.m. Much of the fight was about proposed new rules and new fees. One person after another stood up to tell Department of Health officials why they disagree with proposed changes to New Mexico's medical marijuana program. "If it was your intent to enhance this program, make it easier for patients to enroll in this program, and stay in this program, I'm sorry but you have failed miserably," said one man, followed by a roar of cheers from the crowd.

Monday's public hearing in Santa Fe was packed. Health officials said the demand for medical marijuana has increased, and new rules would allow for more production and growth. However, protestors say the rules come with fees that would actually discourage growth, and hurt patients. "You need to take responsibility here for the patients that are being hurt by your program," shouted one man. "I'm sorry for getting upset but frankly that's why I'm in the program!" Disabled veterans, attorneys, nurses, and patients from all backgrounds attended to speak. Proposed changes include a first-ever patient fee of $50 a year.

Those licensed to grow their own medical pot would be cut from four plants to two. There are nearly 11,000 people active medical marijuana patients in New Mexico. Currently, there are 23 licensed nonprofit marijuana producers in the state, but the changes would allow more than that, and would allow them to grow more plants. However, another proposed change includes adding new fees for producers, which some said would triple their costs. "You have pushed it with these rules and regulations into the black market," said one woman.

"Patients are not going to have enough money they're not going to afford being in the program and so then we're going to lose them to the black market, back on the streets, again buying medicine that is not tested," said Joel White, Vice President of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patient Alliance. Program Manager Ken Groggel said he's thankful for the feedback, and wants to assure people that the program is not being threatened. "We plan on the program going forward, continuing to grow, continuing to develop, and continue to provide safe medicine and safe access for all qualified patients in New Mexico," said Groggel. Groggel said proposed new changes would not discourage program growth. "We don't believe it makes anything more difficult, it's a learning process, we have to wait and get through the rules first to see what we end up with, and then we'll go ahead and apply those in a way that works for everybody."

The DOH said the medical marijuana program does not get help from state funds, therefore, money from fees would go toward program costs, adding employees, and inspections, to keep up with the program's growth. DOH officials said because of the response, it has extended written public comment on the issue until July 1. They'll take public comment into consideration before imposing new changes. Officials haven't said when a final decision will be made on the proposed new rules.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Krqe.com
Author: Gabrielle Burkhart
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Proposed medical marijuana changes draw criticism | KRQE News 13


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I am very proud of every person who spoke at the 6-hour hearing, as I know how difficult it is to not only travel all that way and speak in front of hundreds of strangers, but also to reveal personal information. And every speaker had to deal with the fact that the DOH refused to respond to questions (from patients, not from reporters). The process is similar to talking to a wall, and obviously needs to be changed.

Transparency and accountability. That's what we need. Tell us, please, who is responsible for creating and writing these new rules? Because even if some or all of them don't move forward, I'm sure we'll see similar efforts to further restrict the program in the future.

And even though patients have to plan and budget for their medicine every single day, we still have to wait around while the DOH makes decisions that will negatively impact as all. Of course, it only took the DOH about 3 years to address the supply shortage -- I mean, if and when they ever do.

Why are they making it so hard? Mercy... I'm begging for mercy. Or compassion. Or just plain logic and reason.


Plant of the Month: Oct 2015 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2015
When I read your post, Painkills, I went back and read your other posts.

I circumvented the "much left to be desired" NM dispensary situation by growing my own. Honestly, my need for medication is less than that of many chemo, chronic pain, hep-c, etc. patients. Cannabis is not a significant social activity or a major aspect of my interactions (this site excepted, I suppose.) I take pride that I grow a couple of small high-quality plants, remain well under the legal plant counts, and meet my needs. Making sure that what I grow is not " in yo face" is a priority I take seriously. The proposed legal plant count reduction for individuals bothers me the most.

On the other hand, efforts to increase supply for patients who aren't able to grow their own are appreciated. The desire to "maintain control" is understood by many - though not necessarily approved of. I'm glad that there is at least meaningful dialogue going on.

Despite the tight lipped stance of the DOH in hearings it is interesting to discuss the issue with politicos on an informal basis if the opportunity presents itself. Sure, there is political posturing going on but the, "oh my God no" folks are losing ground slowly but surely.

Keep fighting the good fight!


New Member
Thanks for reading my posts, PeeJay.

Out of all the proposed rules, I bet reducing the plant amount for personal growers is the one that the DOH wishes it could take back the most. As you indicated, personal growers have what they need from the program, so not too many have been involved in trying to make it better. If the DOH hadn't tried to attack PPLs, I bet the uproar would have been significantly reduced.

I only heard about specific difficulties and failures of personal growers from one speaker, who started out with a large number of plants, but unfortunately only one was successful -- netting her about 1/2 of an ounce. And yet, I've heard from other growers who say they can produce much more from one plant. And I really find it hard to believe that patients are being able to make edibles and extracts from the small number of plants they are currently allowed to grow.

As a pain patient, it appears my needs for an "adequate supply" are much larger than other patients. I recognize that. But since New Mexico's program is so restrictive, I thought that most patients would need a similar amount to treat their own chronic medical conditions. Maybe I'm wrong?


Plant of the Month: Oct 2015 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2015
You're not wrong at all, painkills. A patient who is able to invest in the necessary equipment, is physically able, has a secure location, and is able to get past the learning curve can grow plants that yield multiple ounces per plant. Those who are able to maintain a perpetual cycle with some plants in a vegetative state and others in flower at the same time can meet extensive medication needs - but those patients are the exception not the rule. The inherent problem with plant counts is "plant" is not a standard unit of measurement...

Additionally, what constitutes an adequate amount of medication for one patient may be a drop in the proverbial bucket for others... The lion's share of "rule makers" have a difficult time wrapping their heads around all the variables associated with patients growing to meet their personal medication needs. The situation is not unique to NM. It is a thorny issue in all MMJ states.

The substandard dispensary situation here has nudged those with chronic conditions towards growing their own. For many patients, growing their own is not a realistic option. I suppose I'd be willing to exchange lower plant counts for a functioning dispensary system. My fear (and the fear of many others) is that plant counts will go down and the dispensary/supply situation will remain a mess after the "rule makers" get done "fixing" the situation.


New Member
You should not be willing to lower your plant counts for anything, especially for what you might be able to purchase from the dispensaries. In fact, I don't care with the DOH says, personal growers should be fighting for higher plant counts. Not every personal grower will need these increases, but there are enough that do to make it worth the battle.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to listen to all the complaints about the program, yet nobody wants to mention the problems with quality and consistency. I guess it's fear? Because fear and secrecy are the hallmarks of this program.

One of the things I didn't financially prepare for was the monthly cost of the medicine, but also the cost involved with purchasing bud that I didn't consume, some (very sadly) ending up in the trash. And one of the reasons I didn't renew is because, in a year's time and through experimenting with 50% of the producers, I was unable to find quality and consistency.

As for trying to measure the output of any plant, well, like you said, that's impossible. But now they want to measure (and limit) THC content, and I'm not happy with that either. If the "adequate supply" decision was made between a doctor and a patient -- not between the DOH and the patient -- things would be different. But the designers of this program decided to give all the power to the DOH -- and it appears the DOH is really enjoying this power and will not give it up. Ya'll have created a power-hungry Frankenstein.

I feel bad, because I think this program is beyond help. It needs to be totally redesigned for it to work. (Which is why I'm saving up to move elsewhere, even though I love Albuquerque.)


Plant of the Month: Oct 2015 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2015
When I expressed that I would be willing to trade off a lower plant count for an improved distribution and supply system I said so reluctantly. I don't have a great deal of confidence that supply and distribution will be improved by the existing bureaucracy. I was only speaking hypothetically. The situation is a mess.

It saddens me a little that you've given up and are considering a move. You are articulate and knowledgeable and therefore a valuable advocate for workable reform. It sucks that government is so bogged down and cumbersome that change takes a long time. The process is so slow that it becomes difficult to have a sense that we are moving forward at all sometimes... As frustrating as it is, I feel like things will get better down the road if pressure is consistently applied. Unfortunately, many folks don't currently have access to safe medication that works for them and the changes that I feel are inevitable in the long run will come too late to help them.:peace:


New Member
"...I feel like things will get better down the road if pressure is consistently applied."

Consistent and forceful patient involvement is very important, and really lacking in New Mexico. But we're talking about thousands of very sick people, so this is not surprising.

If only we would all vote to legalize in November, maybe we wouldn't have to worry about all this other stuff. (And maybe I wouldn't have to move.)

Thanks for gabbing with me, PeeJay. Now, I'm off to find a connection on the "street." (Just kidding. Or am I?)
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