Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Senate Joint Resolution 19: “ALLOW FOR POSSESSION AND PERSONAL USE OF MARIJUANA”

Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee on 3/8/2017

It is proposed to amend Article 20 of the constitution of New Mexico by adding a new section to read:
"Possession and personal use of marijuana shall be lawful by persons twenty-one years of age or older only if the legislature provides by law for: the production, processing, transportation,
sale, taxation and acceptable quantities and places of use of marijuana to protect public health and safety; and any state revenue generated from the taxation of marijuana to be distributed to the general fund." The amendment proposed by this resolution shall be submitted to the people for their approval or rejection at the next general election or at any special election prior to that date that may be called for that purpose.

Senate Joint Resolution 19 proposes to amend the state constitution by adding a new section to allow for possession and personal use of marijuana for persons 21 years of age and older. This provision is not self-executing, but depends on implementing legislation regulating the use and taxation of marijuana to protect public health and safety. Any tax revenues are to be distributed to the general fund. The resolution is to be submitted for approval by the people of the state in the next general election (November 2018) or any special election called for that purpose.


DOH, in its analysis of marijuana legislation introduced in the 2016 session, reported these health-related concerns related to marijuana: Marijuana is not a benign substance. A number of negative consequences of marijuana use are known despite the Federal restrictions on marijuana that have limited research into the effects (either positive or negative).
“Among them:  Addiction/Dependence: The lifetime risk of dependence is about 9 percent of marijuana users. While this is lower than the risks for nicotine, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, it is not negligible (Bostwick, 2012). Addiction/Dependence also entails a withdrawal syndrome (Greydanus, et al, 2013, Bostwick, 2012).  

Research studies have noted that cannabis users “demonstrate important deficits in prospective memory and executive functioning that exist beyond acute cannabis intoxication” (Greydanus, et al, 2013). This appears to be a relatively subtle effect.  Chronic use of cannabis is associated with increased rates of psychosis. Frequent cannabis use doubles the risk for schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms (Greydanus, et al, 2013).

The question of whether cannabis causes psychosis remains unresolved, but there is some evidence that it worsens the course of psychotic illness (Bostwick, 2012).  The risk of motor vehicle crashes involving death or injury is about two times as high for drivers under the influence of marijuana than for sober drivers. Tests used in the field for the detection of impaired drivers may not be precise enough to detect marijuana (Greydanus, et al, 2013).
Further, DOH commented that many of the ill effects of marijuana are magnified for adolescent users. The average age for beginning marijuana use is around 18 years of age. Dependence and psychosis are much more common among users who begin in their teens, especially the early teens (Bostwick, 2012). Research has shown permanent changes in the brains of persistent users who began use in their early teens (Greydanus, et al, 2013, Bostwick, 2012). Dependence seems quite rare in users who began after age 25. DOH also presented these observations from two states that have legalized marijuana:  Most teens who enter substance abuse treatment programs in Washington State report that marijuana is the main or only drug they use (Washington State Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drug Trends Report, 2012). Colorado and Washington have seen increases in emergency department visits from children accidentally consuming THC-laced products since their laws legalizing marijuana went into effect. (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/11/legal_pot_will_boost_traffic_a.ht ml)

In Colorado, marijuana-related exposures for children five and under have increased 268 percent from 2006-2009 to 2010-2013, triple the national rate, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Partnership. In Colorado, use of marijuana among 12-17 year-olds is 39 percent higher, and use of marijuana among 18-25 year-olds is 42 percent higher, than the national rate for adolescents of the same age.
(The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact – Volume 3, January 2016, available at http://www.rmhidta.org)

Finally, DOH reports marijuana legalization would likely increase use among teens who already use marijuana, according to data from a survey of U.S. high school students. Nearly two-thirds of teens who reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime said that legalizing the drug would make them more likely to use it. In addition, more than three-fourths of heavy marijuana users reported that legalizing the drug would make them more likely to use it. And sixteen percent of teens who reported that they had never used marijuana agreed that they would be more likely to use marijuana if it were legal.
(Adapted by CESAR from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation, The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS): Teens and Parents, 2013 http://www.ibhinc.org/pdfs/CESARFAX2226TeensReportedUseofMarijuanaIfLegal.pdf)”


Call and email your Senator in your district and call the Roundhouse for your voice to be heard.
Senate Chamber main phone 505-986-4714 and general email: senate@nmlegis.gov


Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee on 3/8/2017  Wednesday - 8:00 a.m. (Room 321)

Committee Members

Title
Name
Party
Role
Senator
D
Chair
Senator
D
Vice Chair
Senator
R
Member
Senator
D
Member
Senator
R
Member
Senator
D
Member
Senator
D
Member
Senator
D
Member
Senator
R
Member
Senator
D
Member
Senator
R
Ranking Member


According to the National Conference of State Legislators,  total of 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs and 17 more states allow use of "low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)" products for medical reasons. Eight states and the District of Columbia now have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. State cannabis policy reform surged forward on Nov. 8, 2016, with voters in four states, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, approving adult-use recreational cannabis; Colorado and Washington measures passed in 2012, and Alaska, Oregon and District of Columbia in the fall of 2014.  That is 45 states with legal cannabis laws and 8 of those states have complete legal adult use of cannabis.

At least 30 states passed legislation related to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches: (1) establish industrial hemp research and/or pilot programs, (2) authorize studies of the industrial hemp industry, or (3) establish commercial industrial hemp programs. At least 16 states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes and 20 states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs. Seven states—Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Virginia—have approved the creation of both pilot/research and commercial programs.

  1. Cannabis is Medicine and the Federal Government has a Patent for it.  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 cannabinoids found within the plant 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 cannabis 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. In article in American-Statesman staff writer Jeremy Schwartz in 2012 noted that in 2011, “the Pentagon spent more on pills, injections and vaccines than it did on Black Hawk helicopters, Abrams tanks, Hercules C-130 cargo planes and Patriot missiles — combined.” The military spent at least $2.7 billion on antidepressants and more than $1.6 billion on opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone over the past decade. More than $507 million was spent on the sleeping pill Ambien and its generic equivalents.”  the pharmaceutical industry spent about $1.7 million for more than 1,400 trips for Defense Department doctors and pharmacists to places such as Paris, Las Vegas and New Orleans between 1998 and 2007.  All those Pills killed a lot of Veterans, Cannabis has a 3000 year history with zero deaths associated with it.  "The American Medical Association has no objection to any reasonable regulation of the medicinal use of cannabis and its preparations and derivatives. It does pretest, however, against being called upon to pay a special tax, to use special order forms in order to procure the drug, to keep special records concerning its professional use and to make special returns to the Treasury Department officials, as a condition precedent to the use of cannabis in the practice of medicine."                     
    ~Wm. C. Woodward, Legislative Counsel - 11:37 AM Monday, July 12, 1937
  2. Nowhere in the US Constitution is it written that the federal government can regulate cannabis. The Constitution defines the powers of the federal government, and according to the Tenth Amendment, if it’s not in the Constitution, it’s a state power. States’ rights have advanced state medical cannabis programs since the 1970’s and paved the way for states with legal adult use of cannabis, states should continue on that same policy path for the issue of cannabis research. States like Washington and Oregon should get full commendations on leading the way for states’ rights in the act of “legislating” for freedom by breaking tyrannical barriers for research on a plant with so much promise. Prohibition of cannabis is not a fundamental right that should be imposed on the states by the federal government, it’s a choice that states should be allowed to make based on their culture and their values-allowing states to once again be laboratories of democracy. "...a state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." - Justice Louis Brandeis
  3. Cannabis is a cash crop. So let’s talk economy. New Mexico’s economy continues to be one of the slowest growing economies in the country.  The state budget shortfalls for 2016 totals near $600 million, and this slow economic growth by the state reveals too much dependence on the federal government and oil revenues. Colorado cannabis tax revenues now greatly exceeds original estimates of $70 million per year. Canada has had industrial hemp since 1998, and farmers there have reported net profits of $200 to $250 per acre. Most Canadian hemp is exported to the United States. The Colorado Tourism Office reports that 12% are visiting Colorado dispensaries and 5% specifically due to cannabis legalization there. The activities that cannabis tourist reported engaging in included: sightseeing and wine tours, historical sites, hiking, camping, mountain biking, winter snow sports, nightlife, festivals and farmers' markets, according to the survey.  All great activities in New Mexico with a Balloon Fiesta to boot. Colorado was the first to allow recreational cannabis sales in January 2014, followed by Washington in July 2014, and then Oregon sales began October 2015. Since then Headset Inc, found that the average recreational consumer spends $647 annually on cannabis.
  4. Cannabis is 114 Times Less Toxic Than That Other Legal Substance, Alcohol.  In a comparative analysis on the risks of recreational drugs, alcohol was the top contender, while cannabis was considered the lowest risk, making cannabis literally 114 times safer to use than alcohol, a legal substance for adults ages 21 and up.  And with that mention of alcohol we know the DUI problem New Mexico has...In late December 2016, Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed science journal, published an article that briefly turned the marijuana world on its head. Cosigned by a half-dozen Columbia University PhDs, “U.S. Traffic Fatalities, 1985-2014, and Their Relationship To Medical Marijuana Laws” came to the following shocking conclusion: “Both MMLs (medical marijuana laws) and dispensaries were associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, especially those among aged 25 to 44 years.” In other words, these scientists said, when it comes to driving, states with legal cannabis laws save lives.
  5. Legalization Hasn’t Led to Increased Use Among Teens and Minors.  Since cannabis was legalized in Colorado, many feared that it would lead to increased consumption among youth. In fact, legalization has had the exact opposite effect – due to education and regulations restricting use to adults, the percentage of teenagers in Colorado who admit to using cannabis has been steadily dropping from 22% to 20% between 2011 and 2013, and remains below the national average at 23.4%.  
  6. Cannabis As An Exit Drug for Addiction.  In New Mexico, according to the Department of Health, the drug overdose rate in 2014 was still twice that of the national average. It was the #1 cause of unintentional injury or death in New Mexico. Seventy-five percent of those drug overdose deaths involving opioids or heroin. During the time period of 2001 - 2014, medical prescription sales of opioids increased 236% in New Mexico.  That's lead to an average of 10 New Mexicans dying per week. New Mexico saw a statistically significant increase from 2013-2014 in overdose deaths caused by opioids. According to CDC state data, a increase of 20.8% in opioid overdose deaths was reported. "Research suggests that people are using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication." Says a lead investigator on addiction, Zach Walsh, a professor of psychology at University of British Columbia.  For example, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found a 25 percent lower rate of opioid overdose deaths in states with legal medical cannabis, compared to those without such laws.  Another study, published in Health Affairs, found that in states with medical marijuana, each doctor wrote 1,800 fewer annual opioid prescriptions. A study by the Rand Institute showed that medical cannabis states have not only lower overdose death rates — but also lower opioid addiction rates. And, research conducted with chronic pain patients found that those who used medical marijuana were able to reduce opioid by use by 64 percent — while experiencing fewer side effects and better quality of life. Other research, meanwhile, finds reductions in the number of drivers age 21- 40 involved in fatal crashes with opioids in their system in medical cannabis states.
  7. The state of New Mexico should legalize cannabis and hemp to first and foremost start paying the state legislators.  A hybrid state legislature: Meeting for most of the year and pays the legislators as full-time employees. They can serve the constituents much better because of their extended time in office and ability to devote more time to each issue. New Mexico is the only state with a unsalaried legislature. Providing funding for a paid legislature and state budget reform can be achieved with cannabis and hemp legalization; in conjunction with the utilization of solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources. The state has the renewable resources to potentially provide 1,000 times more clean energy than the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s current demand, according to the state Energy Conservation and Management Division. This will create jobs, has vast potential for the state universities to benefit, and creates a new business market to keep college graduates in New Mexico.States have a paid rather than volunteer fire departments, law enforcement, health-care workers, and teachers, to name a few. The reason is that we rightly expect increased reliability, productivity, and professionalism when we pay for services as opposed to them being provided voluntarily.

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