New Mexico Bill May Give Military Veterans Access to Medical Marijuana

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Senate Judiciary Committee in New Mexico approved a bill that would make all military veterans eligible for a medical marijuana card. The Committee voted 7-3 along party lines to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

The changes to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program would automatically allow veterans to enroll without being diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor, said that changes to the program were necessary for veterans who suffer from PTSD. After the hearing, he said that a PTSD diagnoses can be stigmatizing and he hopes that access to medical marijuana will help reduce suicide rates in the state.

Republican Senator and former Navy Rear Admiral William Payne called the provision offensive because it paints all military veterans as presumptive marijuana patients.

Sen. Bill Payne, R-Albuquerque, said that he found the provision offensive, as it assumes that all veterans have PTSD.

The bill would make additional changes to the medical cannabis program, including allowing patients to possess up to 5 ounces of marijuana during a 30-day period. Currently, patients are allowed to possess 8 ounces during a 90-day period.

As the number of medical marijuana patients grows, cannabis producers will gradually be able to up their plant count. Growers are currently allowed to have up to 450 plants.

Another important provision in the bill is the addition of substance abuse disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions. Valerie Gremillion, a neuroscience researcher, told the committee that marijuana is a good way to fight addiction to opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol. “It’s much less harmful than so many of the other drugs.”