By S.U. Mahesh
Journal Capitol Bureau
SANTA FE - A draft copy of medical marijuana legislation to be introduced today defines several medical conditions that could be legally treated with pot.
Among the chronic or debilitating diseases listed in the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; and severe muscle spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease.
Rep. Joe Thompson, R-Albuquerque, has said he will introduce the bill in the House, and Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, planned to introduce the bill in the Senate.
The bill would update New Mexico's Lynn Pierson Act, which the Legislature passed in 1978. The act was named for a 26-year-old cancer patient who lobbied for its passage.
Under that act, patients could receive medical marijuana as part of a medical research program. The Thompson and McSorley bills would give the Department of Health the authority to administer the medical marijuana program for qualified patients. A patient's primary-care doctor would refer him or her to the program.
Health Secretary Alex Valdez said Tuesday that his department has not determined whether qualified patients or their primary care physicians would be allowed to grow pot or buy it on the black market.
The proposed measure gives immunity to the qualified patient and his or her physician from being prosecuted on drug charges if the amount of marijuana is within limits to be set by the Health Department.
However, it does not relieve the qualified patient from liability for damages or criminal prosecution arising out of driving while intoxicated on marijuana. The patient also could be prosecuted for smoking pot on a school bus, school property, public places or in public vehicles.
A person who misrepresented
his or her participation in the program could be arrested on a petty misdemeanor
charge, according to the draft bill.