New Mexico expands its medical cannabis program

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

New Mexico recently expanded its medical cannabis program by adding more conditions that qualify for getting a cannabis card. Cannabis can now be accessible to help curb opioid use and for autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Advocates in the state say this is a great move and hope to go even further in the future.

“New Mexico’s medical cannabis expansion will bring much-needed relief to many patients,” David Boyer, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Cannabis News Box. “Now, more patients will qualify for a doctor’s recommendation and will now have important employee protections. While there is more work to be done, these are exciting improvements.”

New Mexico is one of many states that is dealing with residents struggling with opioid addiction and recently elected Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on expanding the medical cannabis program so cannabis could be used to help people avoid opioids or to help wean them off of opioids. Though New Mexico’s medical cannabis program is now expanding, the state is still moving somewhat slowly on efforts to legalize social use cannabis. Boyer said there has been enough support in the House for some time but the Senate is blocking it. This has largely been due to Republicans in the Senate who don’t favor cannabis.

“The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a legalization bill for the first time in history this session,” Boyer said. “Unfortunately the bill died in a Senate committee. This is despite the fact that 60% of voters in New Mexico want to see marijuana legalized, taxed and regulated.”

Boyer said Republicans in the New Mexico Senate have been “influenced by residual reefer madness rather than science and data.” He pointed out that legalizing cannabis would actually mean there’d be less criminal activity around the border because people would buy cannabis from the legal market rather than the cartels, which is an argument legalization advocates are hoping will resonate.

“If patients and consumers have access to safe, regulated and legal marijuana, they will choose it over the illicit market,” Boyer said. “Expanding medical marijuana and legalizing it for adults will undoubtedly cripple the drug cartels and allow for a safer border.”

It may take time for this argument to resonate with Republican congressmen who have been involved in the War on Drugs for many years, or they might get voted out and replaced with politicians who are in favor of legalization, but either way, it does seem like legalization is in New Mexico’s future.