After a public hearing in December, the Medical Advisory Board for New Mexico's medical cannabis program recommended
adding three new qualifying conditions: migraine headaches, ankylosing spondylitis (a joint inflammation disease) and bipolar disorder.
But today, the state Health Department announced that only ankylosing spondylitis will qualify
patients for medical cannabis.
“There is insufficient evidence
in the medical literature that medical cannabis is clinically effective for these conditions,” Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil said today in a statement. "[T]he Department will not approve conditions without such evidence.” Great, but then what's the Medical Advisory Board's role? It's not exactly a bunch of dilettantes
; state epidemiologist
DOH physician Steve Jenison is its leader.
It's not the first time
Vigil's opinions have diverged from the Board's advice, and he almost seems to anticipate this criticism:
“I appreciate the Board's hard work in evaluating patient petitions...To make my decisions, I consider scientific evidence that the condition could be helped by medical cannabis and whether the condition meets the purpose of state law, which is to provide relief from pain and suffering associated with debilitating medical conditions.”
So the advisory board just considers...what? Who makes the best pot brownies?
The DOH says it will incorporate ankylosing spondylitis into the larger category of "Inflammatory Auto-immune mediated Arthritis," which may also include rheumatoid arthritis but will be limited in how it's approved since Vigil is "concerned that the category could be misused." Not that it matters: These days even cancer patients can't seem to get medical cannabis.