Panel Backs Expanding N.M. Medical Marijuana Program


Photo: KOB
Patients and caregivers spoke in favor of adding depression to the list of qualified conditions for medical marijuana in New Mexico. The board then recommended adding depression by a 5-2 vote.

‚ÄčIn a pivotal split vote, a panel that advises New Mexico on medical marijuana policy voted Wednesday to allow major depression as a qualifying condition.

The board also unaimously voted to allow some patients to exceed the legal amount of medical cannabis for personal use, on a case by case basis, report Kayla Anderson and Taryn Bianchin at KOB Eyewitness News.
The recommendations now go to Dr. Alfredo Vigil, health department secretary. If he agrees, depression would be the 16th medical condition approved for patient medical marijuana use, reports Phaedra Haywood at The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Other qualifying conditions include chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS patients.
About a dozen people, including a lawyer and a social worker, spoke Wednesday in favor of adding depression to the list of medical marijuana qualifying conditions, and the panel agreed with a 5-2 vote. No one spoke out against the addition.
A series of proposed rule changes to New Mexico’s medical marijuana program dominated hallway discussions among the patients, providers and interested parties in attendance.
Those changes, which include charging nonprofit medical cannabis producers a fee of about 7 percent of their annual gross receipts and increasing the fee for a producer license from $100 to $1,000 to “help fund” the program, were discussed in a public hearing.
The fee increase is needed to pay for the administration of the program, which now serves 2,500 patients, said Deborah Busemeyer, Health Department spokeswoman. The program has no budget of its own.
“We really want to expand what we are able to do,” Busemeyer ssaid. “One proposal is to test products; to get some samples to test for mold and other contaminants.”
Other changes would allow authorized patients to purchase seeds so they can grow their own marijuana, Busemeyer said. Another change would give the health secretary more authority over marijuana producer licenses.