Submitted by Norm on Fri, 08/30/2019 - 18:42

Judge opens up medical pot program to out-of-state residents: During the hearing, plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Egolf said there was “no clear evidence” that the Legislature intended to require New Mexico residency for those trying to access the state’s medical cannabis program.

Egolf, who also serves as speaker of the state House of Representatives, also argued that it is not the duty of the Health Department to prevent someone from breaking the law by crossing state lines with medical cannabis obtained in New Mexico. And he said there is nothing to back up the governor’s concern that the change would impede the state’s ability to maintain regulatory control.

“There is no evidence offered to support this theory (that) … anyone who’s driving through the state of New Mexico will be able to pull over to the side of the road to get a registry identification card like it’s a Snickers bar,” he said. “That’s completely wrong.”

Thomas Bird, the Health Department’s attorney, fired back that the Legislature did not intend to strike the residency requirement and, as it stands, without it there is an increased risk of interstate trafficking and federal interference with the medical cannabis program.

“The department is justifiably concerned about that problem because it could threaten the whole program,” he said. “This isn’t ‘chicken little,’ this isn’t ‘the sky is falling,’ these are the legal realities of the anomalous relationship between the program and federal law.”

Rodriguez, one of the plaintiffs who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said he doesn’t think the program will be abused.

“I think people will honor what the judge said, and we just witnessed a major acceptance of cannabis as any other medical care,” said Rodriguez, a former New Mexico human services secretary. “This is how medicine was intended to be accessed.”

New Mexico launched its medical marijuana program in 2007. There were 76,032 active patients as of July.