Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico

How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico
By Jason Barker (Medical Cannabis Patient & Organizer -LECUA Patient’s Coalition Of New Mexico)
The Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) was created in 2007,  under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, chapter 210 Senate Bill 523. The purpose of this Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments. Under New Mexico law cardholders in the MCP are legally permitted to be in possession of 230 units (grams) and may grow up to 16 medical cannabis plants. The New Mexico Department of Health administers the MCP in accordance with the Act.


New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978.  Lynn Pierson, a 26 year old cancer patient,  brought the value of medical cannabis to the New Mexico legislature. After public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis. Later renamed The Lynn Pierson Marijuana & Research Act set forth a program that had over 250 New Mexicans receiving medical cannabis through the University of New Mexico until 1986. Federal opposition and state bureaucratic opposition developed  thus ending the program in 1986.
Then in the early 2000’s, Erin Armstrong, a medical cannabis advocate who suffered from thyroid cancer, began to lobby the state legislature to pass a medical cannabis law.  Armstrong, a Santa Fe High and UNM grad, spent three years tirelessly advocating for the medical cannabis program we have today. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2007, passed under Governor Bill Richardson and was lead in the state legislature by Senator Cisco McSorley.
The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program is available to New Mexico residents with certain medical conditions. The production and distribution of medical cannabis is provided by Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPP) throughout the state. Licensed Non-Profit Producers may grow no more than 450 total plants; including mature, seedlings, cuttings and clones. A Primary Caregiver may be designated by the Qualified Patient to take responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualified patient in the use of medical cannabis. A qualified patient may also obtain a Personal Production License (PPL) to grow medical cannabis for personal use.
If you believe your debilitating medical condition(s) qualify for the medical cannabis program, discuss your symptoms with your licensed physician.  A doctor has to recommend you to receive medical cannabis as treatment, so the doctor is not prescribing medical cannabis. And this should allow for any licensed physician, in New Mexico, to sign for your enrollment.  You must submit an application to New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program administrator’s office along with all required forms.
If your debilitating medical condition is not on the list of qualifying conditions, you are strongly encouraged to petition the Medical Advisory Board with a request to add a new condition not currently on the list of qualifying conditions. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board convenes at least twice each calendar year to conduct public meetings and is made up of eight board certified practitioners.  The board is responsible for reviewing and recommending to the department additional conditions that would benefit from the medical use of cannabis, accepting and reviewing petitions to add medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for the use of medical cannabis; recommending quantities of cannabis necessary to constitute an adequate supply, and issuing recommendations concerning rules to be promulgated for the issuance of registry identification cards.
Where to find a Medical Cannabis Doctor in New Mexico? Medical practitioners in New Mexico cannot prescribe cannabis; they can only make recommendations. Therefore it is best to check with your primary care physician first, as that is your most cost effective route. The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program accepts recommendations from both mental health specialists and physicians who are licensed to diagnose any of the qualified medical conditions.
Where are the legal cannabis dispensaries in New Mexico located? The New Mexico Department of Health website list 23 medical cannabis dispensaries, located throughout the entire state of New Mexico, with several new ones currently in the process of opening. The majority are based in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area’s of the state. Once your medical cannabis application is approved, you will receive a list of Licensed Non-Profit Producers throughout the state. When new producers are licensed, you will receive the contact information for each new dispensary registered.
What does my medical card allow me to get at a New Mexico dispensary?
Qualified Patients are allowed to possess up to approximately 8 ounces (230 units) of usable cannabis. Primary Caregivers may transport up to this amount for each patient listed on the
Caregiver ID card. If an exception to the 8 ounce limit is granted, it is noted on the back of the
Patient ID card. Maximum THC content of concentrates: A qualified patient or primary caregiver shall not possess a concentrated cannabis-derived product that contains greater than seventy percent (70%) THC by weight. Personal Production License: Qualified Patients may apply for a license to grow their own supply of medical cannabis. The license should be posted or kept near the growing area. A Personal Production License (PPL) allows Patients to have 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings at any given time. The definitions for
mature and seedling plants are as follows:
• Mature plant – A harvestable female cannabis plant that is flowering.
• Seedling – A cannabis plant that has no flowers.
To legally possess more than six ounces, the medical provider must submit a letter to the New Mexico Department of Health, requesting an increase.
Limitations and Restrictions: Qualified patients must follow all other state rules and regulations. Qualified patients can only purchase or grow product for their own medicinal use. Product is not to be shared or transferred between qualified patients. Medical cannabis is to be used in a residence. Extra product is to be destroyed as stated in NMAC 7.34.3.19. Patients with a medical cannabis card cannot use or possess medical cannabis in the following places:
In a public vehicle
In the workplace of the patient or primary caregiver
In a public park
On school grounds or property
In a recreation center, youth center, or other public places
On federal property such as airports, immigration checkpoints, national parks, and reservations
Additionally, patients cannot operation a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.
Are patients and caregivers shielded from discrimination? Yes. Primary caregivers must be a resident of New Mexico, and be 18 years of age, or older. Primary caregivers must also be designated by the patient’s physician as necessary to take responsibility for managing the well-being of a qualified patient.
What is the future of the Medical Cannabis Program in New Mexico? The Medical Cannabis Program has experienced tremendous growth within the last year. The Program currently recommends submitting renewal and new patient applications a minimum of 60 days prior to expiration to allow ample time for processing. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act requires your application to be processed within 30 days. The Medical Cannabis Program is in the process of obtaining new staff to ensure we can meet the demands in the future.
Today, more than 29,000 New Mexicans are registered in the Medical Cannabis Program. In the United States, as of a March 2016 study on ProCog.org, there were over 1,246,170 million legal medical cannabis patients. Thats an average of 8.6 patients per 1,000 state residents in each state; Arizona 13.1 per 1000, California 19.4 per 1000, Colorado 19.8 per 1000, New Mexico 12.5 per 1000*, Oregon 19.2 per 1000, Nevada 5.0 per 1000 and Washington 19.2 per 1000 state residents. (*June 2016 NM DoH MCP Report)
Any resident seeking assistance in qualifying for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program can find that thru the LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico. The LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico, as a grassroots organization, is the leader in New Mexico amongst medical cannabis patient groups. Providing the latest scientific and medical based research for medical cannabis for the: patients, prospective patients, community education & information, physicians / medical professionals, local & state organizations. LECUA_thc_cbd.png

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