Since Republican Gov. Susana Martinez took office in January, more than 1,000 New Mexicans have applied for medical marijuana licenses. Martinez has been promoting the administration that had advocated repeal of the law to instead propose taking the program outside of the public health department.
In 2007, New Mexico became the 12th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Its program differs from most in that the state oversees the production and distribution of marijuana. A medical advisory board determines what medical conditions qualify a patient for the program. Doctor’s do not prescribe medical marijuana. They certify that patients have one of the approved conditions and that standard treatment doesn’t work for them. Patients then apply to the state, and, if approved, receive a registry card with information on how to contact nonprofit growers licensed to supply marijuana. Since post-traumatic stress disorder and several other conditions were added to the list of qualifying illnesses, applications have soared.
Medical marijuana advocates said they were encouraged to hear the news as the Martinez during her campaign had talked of repealing the law. The governor did not pursue that effort during her first legislative sessions, citing the state’s pressing budget issues. “This is one of the best run, highly regulated programs in the country and we’d like to see it continue to be that model for the rest of the country,” said Emily Kaltenbach of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “So we are hopeful that their hiring of staff means that they are going to be fulfilling the intent of the statute and the regulations.”