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SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico’s medical marijuana program will continue for now, although the state’s new governor has made it clear she does not support the law that allows people with certain medical conditions to use the drug.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who took office Jan. 1, said during her campaign the state law puts state employees in the position of violating federal law and she’d like it repealed. But she’s also said New Mexico has pressing budget issues, so repeal is not a priority in the 2011 legislative session.
Martinez’s nominee for health secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres, would say only that the program “continues to function according to current state law.” The Department of Health oversees it.
The law’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Gerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, said he hopes the new administration won’t push for its repeal in the future, either.
“It may be after she’s been in office a while, she looks at the program and decides to just leave it alone,” he said.
Republican Rep. Bill Rehm of Albuquerque would like to see the law rolled back. But Rehm said while there’s a chance the House would vote for repeal, he doesn’t believe the Senate would.
“It’s not a fight I’m going to take on this year,” he said.
Rehm voted against the state’s medical marijuana law because he believes there are approved medications that can be used instead. Besides, he said, “it’s such a crude method of getting the drug by smoking, and we already know that smoking’s bad.”
New Mexico’s medical cannabis law went into effect July 1, 2007. Then-Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil described it as “carefully crafted to make it a conservative, medical program” that would not lead to de facto legalization.
But that’s the worry of Rehm and other lawmakers who believe the program has been opened up to too many medical conditions.
Only patients with conditions approved by the health secretary can legally use medical marijuana. New Mexico started out with seven approved conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and HIV-AIDS.
Now there are 16, plus some people in hospice care can qualify. Vigil rejected recommendations from the program’s Medical Advisory Board to add seven others in 2009 and 2010.