The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board unanimously recommended adding opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis at a public hearing Friday, a decision that prompted applause from a crowd of physicians, patients, advocates and other concerned citizens.
This is the third time the board has approved this qualification, but the first during the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her new Health Department Secretary Kathy Kunkel, whom the board and many advocates feel are much more sympathetic to medical marijuana than their predecessors under the administration of Susana Martinez.
The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board was created as part of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, meets at least twice a year to hold public meetings and offer recommendations to the Department of Health, and is comprised of certified medical practitioners.
Board member Laura Brown said Wednesday that she spoke with Kunkel recently and the secretary on board.
“The directive was ‘this needs to happen now,’” Brown said.
Bryan Krumm, a psychiatric nurse practitioner from Albuquerque who introduced the petition, had some strong words for the previous administration.
“Unfortunately we spent the last eight years under an administration that was very hostile to cannabis,” Krumm says. “We had an evil, cruel, vindictive governor who spent her career as a prosecutor destroying the lives of cannabis users. And Secretary of Health Lynn Gallagher chose to be a lapdog to Governor Susana Martinez. They now have blood on their hands.”
“About every 36 hours, someone in New Mexico dies from an opiate-related overdose,” said Jessica Gelay, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. “This will save lives.”
Brown added research shows that states with medical cannabis legislation that includes opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition have seen as much as a 25 percent reduction in opioid deaths.
“This is powerful, and it’s been known for a long time,” Brown said.
“I believe we now have an administration in place with the compassion and wisdom, and is willing to follow through on their ethical obligations to the people of New Mexico and their health and welfare,” Krumm added.
The program current allows 22 conditions including cancer, PTSD, chronic pain, Crohn's and other diseases.
Will grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and guarantees he has already heard the corn joke you’re about to make. He writes about city council, among other things, and when he’s not working he’s probably lost and yelling at Google Maps for not finding his location.