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New Mexico becomes 12th medical marijuana state!

Dear Pinch:

Just a little while ago, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) signed New Mexico's medical marijuana legislation into law. As a result, New Mexico is now the 12th state to protect seriously ill patients from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana with their doctors' approval.

Gov. Richardson is the first governor in history to enact a medical marijuana law while running for the presidency. And the bill he signed is the only one of the 12 state-level medical marijuana laws to require the state government to authorize the distribution of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.

By comparison, California's medical marijuana law, which was first enacted in 1996 and expanded in 2003, authorizes patients and caregivers to "collectively or cooperatively" cultivate medical marijuana. The law is intentionally imprecise – the result of many compromises during the legislative process – giving local communities in California great leeway over how or whether to regulate the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana. As a result, some California localities have banned establishments dispensing medical marijuana, others have issued moratoria, and others have issued regulations.

In New Mexico, the state government is now charged with licensing producers of medical marijuana and determining where it will be dispensed.

Indeed, the notion of providing patients with places to purchase their medical marijuana is sweeping the nation. In Maine, a measure to expand the state's existing medical marijuana law has been introduced in the state legislature. The bill seeks to authorize the sale of marijuana through dispensaries. (A similar bill has been introduced in Oregon.)

In the coming months, MPP plans to direct significant resources to ensure passage of the bill before the legislature adjourns for the year. Would you please consider contributing to our efforts to make medical marijuana safer and easier for patients to obtain?

In New Mexico, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) had been working to pass this new medical marijuana law ever since then-Gov. Gary Johnson (R) began advocating for drug legalization in 1999. This year, the Senate approved the bill with a 32-3 vote, and the House passed the bill with a 36-31 vote. The new law takes effect on July 1. Click here to read the actual text of the law and here to read MPP's summary of the law.

New Mexico joins Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont as only the fourth state to enact its medical marijuana law via the legislative process. The other eight states that have enacted similar laws – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington – have all done so via ballot initiatives.

MPP is working hard in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York to make these states the 13th, 14th, and 15th to pass medical marijuana legislation. Would you please consider making a donation today to support our efforts? Thank you ...


Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.
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