In a public hearing scheduled for 9:30 am tomorrow, the New Mexico Department of Health will consider new regulations for the state's medical cannabis program—which many say could gut the 3-year-old program. Here's what's at stake.
We've analyzed the proposed rules, line by line, against what's in place now. Scroll through the document below to see what's different about the proposed regulations to govern New Mexico's medical cannabis program. Of particular interest are the following changes:
Change #1: The Medical Advisory Board, which currently recommends medical conditions that should allow people to qualify for medical cannabis use (and is meeting this morning to do just that, on the subject of "major depression"), would under the proposed rules have the power to recommend removing already approved conditions, or increasing the requirements to prove that a patient suffers from a particular condition.
One problem is that the Advisory Board already has trouble getting the DOH to sign off on the conditions it does approve, and many advocates decry the slow pace of certifying conditions. Removing conditions—which currently include PTSD, chronic pain, cancer and the like—could further limit prospective patients' access to medical cannabis, or even cut off existing patients' access entirely.
Changes #2, 3 and 10: All of these changes limit public access to the proceedings of the medical cannabis program, whether by restricting attendance to meetings, changing formerly public meetings to private ones, or lowering the bar for public notification (often from notification by registered or certified mail to simple, unspecified notification).
Changes #4 and 5: Two recurring themes in the proposed rules represent a slightly higher bar for program participants—but one that has the potential to protect the state and program participants from unwittingly violating the Controlled Substances Act.
The first involves a justification for prescribing medical cannabis, and a requirement that practitioners directly state that, for a particular patient, the benefits of medical cannabis will outweigh the risks. (Laziness?) The second requires that patients and caregivers prove they are New Mexico residents. Both appear in several places in the proposed regulations.
Note: This document does not represent a complete listing of all changes contained in the proposed regulations.
PUBLIC HEARING INFORMATION:
Thurs., Sept. 30
Harold Runnels Auditorium (ground floor)
1190 St. Francis Dr., Santa Fe, NM
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