Public Hearing Planned on Medical Marijuana

July 27, 2008

Santa Fe, NM — New Mexicans will be able to have their say on proposed rules for the state’s medical marijuana program.The state Department of Health announced Thursday that it will hold a public hearing Sept. 8 in Santa Fe to take comments on regulations that would set up rules for patient identification cards and a regulated system for licensing, distributing and manufacturing medical marijuana.

The state law that took effect in July 2007 allows marijuana for pain or other symptoms of specified debilitating illnesses. The department has approved 169 people for medical marijuana, including 40 with spinal cord damage, 39 with HIV-AIDS, 36 with cancer, 28 with multiple sclerosis, 14 with epilepsy and 12 with glaucoma.New Mexico has been careful in drafting its regulations because no other state has developed rules for a distribution and production system, Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil said.

The state proposes two types of licensed producers: a qualified patient who can produce a defined supply for personal use only and a nonprofit private entity operating a facility limited to 95 mature plants and seedlings at any time.

The health secretary will consider the needs of qualified patients and public safety in determining the number and location of licenses.

The regulations include measures to prevent unauthorized marijuana use by requiring criminal background checks for applicants, security measures for facilities and a warning that unauthorized use will be referred to state law enforcement.

The hearing also will take public comments on the proposed rules for the identification card program, the third hearing on that part of the program.

That plan would let patients possess six ounces of medical marijuana as a supply for three months. Patients with a license to produce could have four mature plants and 12 seedlings.

The department has made several changes in the draft proposal based on previous comments, including adding definitions for usable marijuana, adding an appeal and revising a monitoring system to be more respectful to patients.

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