Friday, February 3, 2017

New Mexico’s Cannabis Revenue And Freedom Act

By Jason Barker
The Medical Cannabis Program in New Mexico has continued to be a topic of many headlines across the state and nationally, along with our state’s budget crisis, for several months now.  And most recently talk of how “adult use” cannabis legalization can provide much needed funds to an underfunded state budget.  New Mexico’s economy is one of the slowest growing economies in the country, now the state legislature is having to conduct a special session and recreational cannabis legalization will be discussed.  The state budget shortfalls for 2016 totals near $600 million, and this slow growth reveals too much dependence on largess by the federal government and oil revenues.
Cannabis policy will be a getting a lot of discussion, now with over eight different bills filed in the Roundhouse that are for either legalizing cannabis, hemp, and improving the current medical cannabis program. New Mexico has taken the first steps needed towards legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis and hemp.


Those sources of New Mexico's economic malaise provide funding for Education, Veterans Programs,  Police Funding, Firefighter/EMT Funding and Health and Human Services programs like Medicaid in our state.
As a follow up to a previous article, Cannabis, Hemp, and a Paid State Legislature? Legalization done right. The topic of legalization will be discussed and examined further on how it may affect the current medical cannabis program law, along with the potential benefits of legalization for the state of New Mexico.
On Monday, February 27th, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. - Room 317, HB-89 Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act will continue the legislative process in the House Business & Industry Committee.
House Business & Industry Committee Members
Committee Members

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For the legalization of cannabis, Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez are sponsoring the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act as HB-89 in the House Chamber. Representative McCamley serves in district 33, Doña Ana county, as a Representative since 2013 with an occupation in business outreach and teaching in schools. Representative Javier Martínez serves Bernalillo county (District: 11) working as an Attorney and serving the House since 2015. In the Roundhouse on the House side, Representatives Bill McCamley,  Javier Martinez, and Deborah A. Armstrong- are all strong supporters of the current medical cannabis program, who want to see it to be protected and improved. For all New Mexicans our best platform to date for the legalization of cannabis is by Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez as it follows the the legislative process with the sequence of steps required for laws to move through the system, from ideas to formally adopted legislation.


To call your legislators in your district and to call members of committee’s working in cannabis legislation: The House of Representatives Office and Phone List here and the Senate Office and Phone List here.
The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, in short will transition the current medical cannabis program into this law. This legislation would establish what is called a Cannabis Control Board that is administratively attached to the Regulation and Licensing Department. The duties of this Cannabis Control Board, that will be made up of 11 members, is to regulate and provide oversight of the medical cannabis program and the social use of marijuana established in the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act. The legislation does keep the Department of Health and Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in limited roles.


The Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act allows for the following :
  • the possession of usable marijuana by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older, if the total of usable marijuana does not exceed: two ounces at the person's household; or one ounce outside the person's household


  • the possession of up to seven grams of marijuana extract by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older


  • the production, processing, keeping or storing of homegrown marijuana at a household by one or more persons who are twenty-one years of age or older, if the total of homegrown marijuana at the household does not exceed at any given time: six marijuana plants per person; provided, however that no more than twelve marijuana plants may be present in one household; six immature marijuana plants; and eight ounces of usable marijuana;
  • the making, processing, keeping or storing of homemade marijuana products at a household by one or more persons who are twenty-one years of age or older, if the total
    of homemade marijuana products at the household does not exceed at any given time: sixteen ounces in solid form; or seventy-two ounces in liquid form;


  • the delivery for noncommercial purposes by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older to another person who is twenty-one years of age or older of not more than one ounce of homegrown marijuana at any given time;
  • the delivery for noncommercial purposes by a person who is twenty-one years of age or older to another person who is twenty-one years of age or older of: not more than sixteen ounces, at any given time, of homemade marijuana products in solid form; or not more than seventy-two ounces, at any given time, of homemade marijuana products in liquid form.


  • regulate industrial hemp production and possession and regulate commerce in industrial hemp commodities and products in this state


  • plant count increase structured : 1000 plants by July 1st 2017 then 2000 by July 1st 2018
  • local Gov’t Authority ( county / city municipality can decide on licenses for both )
  • Taxes: 15% with possible 5% more Municipality tax and another possible 5% county tax


  • allows for medical patients with growers licenses to sell excess cannabis to producer ( you won’t have the excess issue under this bill )
  • beginning July 1, 2017, accept applications for licenses to produce, process and sell
    marijuana items within the state from licensed producers pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act;


  • beginning October 1, 2017, in accordance with the provisions of the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, issue licenses to qualified applicants who are already licensed producers pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.


  • beginning July 1, 2019, the department shall: accept applications for licenses to produce, process and sell marijuana items within the state


Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino has introduce the same bill, Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act in the Senate Chamber as SB-278. This bill was filed January 31st, 2017.


The US Federal Government actually holds a patent for the medical use of the cannabis plant. Since one part of the government applied for the patent of medical cannabis, and another part of the government approved that patent, it only logical to conclude that the federal government knows that marijuana does indeed have valid medical properties. The U.S. Patent Office issued patent #6630507 to the U.S.Health and Human Services filed on 2/2/2001. The patent lists the use of certain cannabinoids found within the cannabis sativa plant as useful in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and HIV dementia.


Since cannabis sativa (marijuana) contains compounds recognized and endorsed by an agency of the U.S. government- Why is it that marijuana remains on the Federal Schedule One list of drugs? The issuance of patent #6630507 is a direct contradiction of the government’s own definition for classification of a Schedule 1 drug.        


The U.S. government’s own National Institutes of Health researchers even concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that Information on safety is lacking.” Maybe there are some big pharma lobbyists and bigwig campaign finance contributors that would get a little upset.


Photo Credit: Steep Hill

Is there a difference between recreational and medical cannabis?

Technically there is no difference. A cannabis plant’s effectiveness as medicine or recreation is determined solely by the user.  In today’s era of how legalization and commerce of cannabis has spread, the distinction matters.  Much of the basic science on cannabis has lead many industry professionals to realize all use of cannabis is medical.  If the person is or isn’t treating a diagnosed condition with cannabis, their choice to use it in place of a more toxic medication or other recreational drug is a proven healthful choice. A basic drug, like aspirin, are even more dangerous than cannabis. According to the CDC, aspirin can cause gastrointestinal complications and even death if too much is ingested. On that same note, a individual of good health who chooses to smoke a joint rather than a beer is also making a positive health decision. To put that into context, according to the New Mexico Department of Health, and average of FOUR New Mexicans DIE everyday due to alcohol related causes.  Cannabis still claims zero lives annually and remains one of the most non-toxic substances safely used in New Mexico since 1978.
As more states legalize adult use or "recreational" cannabis, state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs have come under attack and now we see the same in New Mexico. In an attempt to sell legalization to anti-cannabis voters, legalization advocates have emphasized these financial rewards over harm reduction or freedom the current medical cannabis program has provided. Good old-fashioned American capitalism driving legalization should come as no surprise in today’s world, although the arguments for freedom and liberty should be more powerful drivers for American voters on both sides of the aisle in the Round House at New Mexico’s Capital.
As New Mexico works to define a model for cannabis legalization that protects and improves the state’s medical cannabis program and puts patients first as well, lawmakers have a lot of history to contend with. New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978 (After public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis). In an Albuquerque Journal poll conducted in October 2016, 61 percent of likely voters said they would support a measure to legalize recreational cannabis for adults age 21 and older.
“New Mexico won’t see people coming across the border like we see with Colorado,” said Richard Anklam, Executive Director of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. “The sooner we do it (legalization), the more likely we would have an initial positive effect.”

A Call For Action: Phoning Your Legislator

It is natural to feel intimidated about contacting your elected officials. But the strength and power politicians have is derived directly from their constituents. Legislators are elected to represent your views, and they appreciate hearing from their constituents.
Contacting your legislator by phone is a very effective way to show your support or opposition on a particular issue. Phone calling is most effective when you can mobilize "phone-ins" - when lots people call their legislator's office(s) regarding a specific issue within a few days or even a few hours of one another.

Be aware of timing. The most effective time to place a call to your lawmaker is close to a vote or legislative hearing. It is not required that you write a letter or have made an attempt to contact your lawmaker prior to a phone call, but it is helpful. If you have written or visited with your legislator in the past remind them or their staff of this previous contact when you call.

Write a script. Before you make the call, think thoroughly about the reason for your call. Your phone call will be short, so you really need to have an action for your legislator to make and one or two concise statements prepared to support the action. The goal is to make absolutely clear what action you want your legislator to take.

Identify yourself, make sure they understand that you are a concerned voter and if unable to speak directly with your legislator, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, for example: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (name legislation or ordinance #).

Ask to speak to the right person. Generally, a staff member, not the lawmaker, will take your telephone calls. It is important that you ask to speak with the aide who handles your issue. Make clear your position and the action you think your member should take. Feel free to ask questions and share information about your issue, however be concise and considerate.
Americans for Safe Access has a complete guide about “The ABCs of Citizen Advocacy: A Guide for Medical Cannabis Activists

To call your legislators in your district and to call members of committee’s working in cannabis legislation: The House of Representatives Office and Phone List here and the Senate Office and Phone List here.

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