N.M. approves four new medical marijuana producers

N.M. approves four new medical marijuana producers

After months during which New Mexico’s single non-profit producer of medical marijuana was unable to keep a consistent supply of medical cannabis, Department of Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil announced Monday that the state is licensing an additional four producers, enough, the department hopes, to supply the state’s nearly 800 active medical cannabis patients.

“We are the first state to develop this kind of distribution system for medical cannabis and we will continue to proceed carefully with the development of the program so we can meet the needs of our patients while not creating an excess supply,” Dr. Vigil said in the statement. “Our main goals are to ensure our patients have access to the medicine they need while building a sustainable program for New Mexico. The medical cannabis program is for people who cannot get relief from their suffering by any other means. We are very proud of the program’s success so far.”

These newly approved non-profits have been highly anticipated by patients and advocates. As NMI first reported in August, almost as soon as the Santa Fe Institute of Natural Medicine made its first medical marijuana crop available to patients, the supply ran out. It eventually had to resort to rationing its supply.

In a November 5 note on the producer’s Web site, SFINM said it understood that patients are “suffering from ‘OUT OF STOCK’ syndrome.”

“We realize this makes you irritable and frustrated and in most cases ready to scream because you are once again forced onto the street for your medicine,” the note states. “To better manage the demand, we have implemented a policy limiting orders to 1 oz for Albuquerque and Santa Fe residents and 2 oz’s for our rural patients who travel longer distances.  … We do so because we want as many people as possible to have an opportunity to get their medicine.”

The state approved four more producers based on an estimate of one producer for every 100 patients.  There are currently 755 patients, 204 of whom are licensed to produce their own medical marijuana, according to the Department of Health.

On November 2, the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance began circulating via e-mail a letter to Secretary Vigil. The letter urged him to license at least six new nonprofits, based on the same 100 patients per non-profit number.

While the approval of new producers will be welcome news for medical marijuana patients, problems remain with the state’s program. Concerns about border security checkpoints make it unlikely that non-profits will deliver the drug to patients if it requires them to travel through the checkpoints, located in the southern part of the state. The department would not say where the new non-profits are located, citing security concerns.

The cost of delivery has also posed a challenge for the state’s original producer. On its Web site, SFINM states it will only travel outside of the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area if it has a quota of 50 patients to deliver to. Given the rural nature of New Mexico, this means that many patients could be unable to receive deliveries. In its letter to Vigil, the Drug Policy Alliance asked that individual primary caregivers be licensed to produce for patients. Allowing caregivers to grow the drug for patients would help provide access for patients in rural areas of the state, the Alliance said.

There are 15 medical conditions that allow a person to qualify for the program, including cancer, severe chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and post traumatic stress disorder. Make sure you check out the Marijuana Stocks list. It has a list of the latest marijuana stock companies.

Obama administration makes medical marijuana de facto legal

Obama administration makes medical marijuana de facto legal

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the Drug Enforcement Administration would stop shutting down state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries, MSNBC reported last week.

“What the president said during the campaign … will be consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement,” Holder said last week in response to a question at a press conference in Santa Ana, Calif.“What (Obama) said during the campaign … is now American policy.”

Obama said at a campaign stop in November 2007 that he was “open” to the use of marijuana as a pain reliever, MSNBC continued:

“My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana, then that’s something I’m open to,” Obama said in November 2007 at a campaign stop in Audubon, Iowa. “There’s no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain.”

New Mexico is one of 13 states that allow the cultivation, sale, and use of medically prescribed marijuana. Gov. Bill Richardson, who signed the legalization bill in April 2007, said in a press release that Holder’s announcement was good news.

“This is welcome news and validates our bold action to allow this alternative treatment to improve the quality of life for those suffering from chronic and debilitating diseases,” said Richardson. “I have no doubt that other states will soon join New Mexico and the other 12 states in recognizing that allowing this effective and compassionate treatment is the right thing to do.”

According to Richardson’s office, since New Mexico legalized medical marijuana more than 200 patient applications have been approved. The law lists eligible medical conditions for which marijuana can be used and regulates the production of the crop.

Don’t expect DEA raids on N.M. medical marijuana dispensaries

Don’t expect DEA raids on N.M. medical marijuana dispensaries

 

ALBUQUERQUE — The nation’s top cop said Friday that marijuana dispensaries participating in New Mexico’s fledgling medical marijuana program shouldn’t fear Drug Enforcement Agency raids, a staple of the Bush administration.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking in Albuquerque during a meeting focused on border issues, including drug trafficking, said his department is focused “on large traffickers,” not on growers who have a state’s imprimatur to dispense marijuana for medical reasons.

“For those organizations that are doing so sanctioned by state law, and doing it in a way that is consistent with state law, and given the limited resources that we have, that will not be an emphasis for this administration,” Holder said.

Friday was not the first time that Holder has said state-sanctioned marijuana dispensaries shouldn’t worry about DEA raids that occurred under the Bush administration, especially as several states passed laws that legalizing medical marijuana.

But Holder’s statement comes at a time when New Mexico’s nascent medical marijuana program nears operation and at least one producer has indicated a concern about federal raids.

The Santa Fe Reporter ran a story this week in which it quoted a representative of the only nonprofit the state has approved to dispense marijuana — Santa Fe Institute of Natural Medicine Inc. — as saying it would likely “pull up stakes” if the Reporter published its name in this story. Margaret Schulze argued that naming the non-profit would attract the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as well as criminal elements.

Schulze could not be reached for comment by the Independent despite two phone messages and an e-mail.

Deborah Busemeyer, a state Department of Health spokesperson, would not name the Santa Fe Institute as a producer in an interview this week. But she acknowledged there was only one producer and that more than 10 other applicants were awaiting approval.

“I know we are working on scheduling site visits for them,” Busemeyer said. “That’s one of the final steps.”

Busemeyer said it was hard to say how long before another dispensary is approved for the state’s medical marijuana program. Some applicants are farther along than others.

The Department of Health began development of New Mexico’s Medical Marijuana Program in 2007 and, so far, 372 patients are authorized by the state to participate.

“We have approved 61 patients to grow their own marijuana,” Busemeyer added.

But questions remain as to when the program will produce enough cannabis to meet demand.

Busemeyer said the state approved the application of the lone producer in March. “They are estimating they could have a supply by the end of summer,” she said.

Despite the worry, there are many investors still looking to invest in Marijuana stocks.

Marijuana could be an exit drug, Will this help Marijuana stocks?

Marijuana could be an exit drug, Will this help marijuana stocks?

An often heard assertion about marijuana is that it’s a “gateway drug,” one that leads young people into using more dangerous drugs over time. But new research and programs are now examining its potential as an exit drug.

A recent study of a medical marijuana patients group found that a significant number of them were using the drug as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs

Forty percent have used cannabis as a substitute for alcohol, 26% as a substitute for illicit drugs and 66% as a substitute for prescription drugs. The most common reasons given for substituting were: less adverse side effects (65%), better symptom management (57%), and less withdrawal potential (34%) with cannabis.

The study reported in the Harm Reduction Journal focused more specifically on the use of marijuana as a treatment for alcoholism. A study of 92 medical marijuana patients using the drug as a substitute for alcohol found that marijuana was an effective treatment in 100 percent of the cases:

When addressing the efficacy of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol, all participants reported cannabis substitution as very effective (50%) or effective (50%). Ten percent of the patients reported being abstinent from alcohol for more than a year and attributed their success to cannabis. Twenty one percent of patients had a return of alcoholic symptoms when they stopped using cannabis. Reasons for stopping the cannabis use ranged from entering the armed forces to being arrested for using cannabis.

The use of marijuana as a “harm reduction” strategy in addiction and mental health services is being tested at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA., in a program funded by the area’s largest medical marijuana dispensary. Harm Reduction Clinical Consultant Jennifer Janichek explained to the East Bay Express that harm reduction philosophy is that people will engage in risky behavior, so a focus should be on reducing the harm associated with those risks. Examples are needle exchanges, condom disbursements, and seat belt laws. And now, maybe “a little pot over a lot of OxyContin.”

This is yet another reason that there will be a push to legalize Marijuana. Most people believe it is just a matter of time. This may be why so many people are looking into investing in Marijuana stocks in hope to cash in big once it is legalized.

There are plenty of reason why people love pot stocks and love marijuana stocks. Don’t be surprised if Marijuana Stocks are next years bitcoin!