The measure, sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo) and Representative Deborah Armstrong (D-Bernalillo), seeks to expand access to medical cannabis in New Mexico. Currently many medical cannabis patients still face discrimination and lack access to their medicine.
This bill is the result of a process that began last year with a statewide task force that examined the state’s medical cannabis program. New Mexicans who rely on medical cannabis often find that it is either inaccessible or unaffordable. Access to medical cannabis for patients living in rural areas and on tribal lands is especially difficult. This bill makes changes that establish civil protections for schooling, child custody and employment. It will lead to improved access to safe and affordable medical cannabis for all New Mexicans who need it.
“The medical cannabis program is well established in New Mexico, but patients still encounter discrimination in daily life,” Jessica Gelay, New Mexico Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “This bill will improve the program and update the law so that medical cannabis patients are not stigmatized for lawfully using their medicine. It goes a long way toward ensuring that patients’ basic needs – like access to schooling, medical care, and employment – are not jeopardized because cannabis is their medicine.”
Elements of SB 406:
- Establishes civil protections for patients for schooling, child-custody, and related to medical care, including receiving an organ transplant. Protects patients who are parents from CYFD intervention solely because of Medical Cannabis Program participation.
- Establishes employment protections for patients and prevents employers from taking adverse actions against patients for their lawful use of medical cannabis.
- Creates a multi-year registry ID card that is good for three years.
- Allows the Department of Health (DOH) to license onsite consumption of medical cannabis as long as the area is accessible only to patients and caregivers, is not publicly visible.
- Updates medical qualifying conditions listed in statute to include the 15 conditions approved by the DOH since 2007.
- Improves access for MCP patients living on NM Indian tribe, pueblo, or nation land by allowing the DOH to license personal production at alternative addresses, and ensures that the Department will annually evaluate how well the program is meeting the needs of medical cannabis patients in rural areas and on tribal land.
There are nearly 70,000 patients in the New Mexico medical cannabis program whose quality of life is improved with access to medical cannabis, often when nothing else works.
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (LECUA) has not been updated since it was passed in 2007. A similar bill was vetoed by Susana Martinez in 2017.