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Largest County In New Mexico Bucks Medical Marijuana Law

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medical marijuana new mexico medicine(Albuquerque, NM) – New Mexico’s largest county is bucking the state’s medical marijuana law by prohibiting any use of marijuana by county employees, following a new policy issued on November 12 by Bernalillo County Manager Tom Zdunek. The county memorandum cites federal prohibition and county policy as the reason for prohibiting the use of marijuana.

More than 10,000 New Mexican residents are actively enrolled in our state’s Medical Cannabis Program and nearly 4,000 of them live in Bernalillo County. Many are military veterans, patients living with disabilities, and victims of serious trauma and violent crime. New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is considered a nationwide model – in 2007 New Mexico became the first state to develop and implement a state-licensed medical marijuana production and distribution system.

Earlier this month, veterans and policymakers teamed up to host a public summit launching the new “Freedom to Choose” campaign that aims to address New Mexico’s military veterans’ legal access to medical marijuana. In response to Bernallilo County’s new policy, the campaign has introduced a petition asking for all compassionate New Mexicans to join them in telling Bernalillo County to protect the rights of New Mexicans and to change county policy to allow patients in the medical marijuana program to be allowed to remain employed. Link to memorandum.

Last December Bernalillo County Corrections Department Lt. Augustine Stanley, a father of four and a US Army veteran, was successfully using medical marijuana to treat symptoms of PTSD acquired from his tour of duty in Iraq, was dismissed after he tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test.

“I tried all the prescription pills the VA gave me, but none of the medications worked. I felt worse than before I took them, more depressed,” said Stanley. “Another Corrections officer, who is also a veteran, suggested I try medical marijuana. At that point I was willing to try anything, so I became a qualified patient. Medical marijuana worked for me. I am able to enjoy my children and my wife. I never used my medicine before work. In thirteen years of working in corrections there was never a mark on my record. And then one day I was fired. I was even up for a promotion.”

Stanley’s story is not unique. Many military veterans who do not find relief with prescription medication turn to medical marijuana.

“When I returned home from Afghanistan I was diagnosed with PTSD. I worked with my doctor and tried many prescription drugs. Taking handfuls of pills every day, every one with a different set of side effects was hard on my body, and I still experienced some symptoms,” said Michael Innis, who served in the General Infantry and who was awarded a Purple Heart after the convoy he was traveling with got hit by an IED and was then ambushed. “Cannabis was not my first choice of medicine, but I tell you first hand, this medicine works for me. Cannabis allows me to leave my house and has helped me to return to work.”

“Tell them not to turn their backs on veterans, patients with disabilities, and victims of trauma and violent crime,” said Nat Dean, another medical cannabis patient diagnosed with chronic pain and PTSD.  “We deserve access to the medicine that works for us. Don’t take away our medicine.”

“Current pharmaceutical cocktails have limited efficacy for PTSD, have significant debilitating side-effects, and have in many cases proven deadly,” stated Lisa Walker, M.D. a board-certified psychiatrist. “Given these facts, along with the experience of thousands of patients whose quality of life has been improved by its use, medical cannabis should continue to be an available treatment for those suffering. Patients deserve, above all, the freedom to choose the safest and most effective treatment for their disabling conditions — whatever that treatment might be.”

“This is a backwards policy that will prevent people who are suffering from accessing the medicine that works for them,” says Jessica Gelay, policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance in New Mexico. “Many people find by participating in the medical marijuana program they are able to return to the workforce when before they were too sick to be employed. It is unconscionable that the County Manager would unilaterally attempt to deny Bernalillo County employees the right to use a medicine recommended by their physician. Patients deserve above all else, the freedom to choose the safest and most effective treatment for their disabling conditions — whatever that treatment might be. It is time to stop demonizing marijuana and creating a double standard for prescription medications.”

The county policy memorandum is out of sync with the nation where the most recent Gallup poll found that 58 percent of  U.S. residents favor legalizing marijuana for non-medical use. Even the federal government is showing signs of shifting course. US Attorney General Eric Holder announced in August that the federal government would not interfere with or prosecute businesses in Washington or Colorado, as long as they comply with guidelines and regulations.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

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  1. An old quote that most of us seniors from the 60’s can relate too:
    “WAR IS UN-HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN AND OTHER LIVING THINGS”
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  2. I have a dual purpose for this post, so bear with me…

    First, I wanted to get this idiot’s post below me out of the top of this comments section. Okay, accomplished that.

    Second, I wanted to make a request to this website to create an Article Category for Veterans. Perhaps ask a veteran what kind of articles should be included. And maybe even a category for seniors. I would think there are people in both groups who don’t want to waste time looking at pictures of bud. Of course, I could be wrong. :D

    And finally, just to make sure this post takes up lots of room to push that other one further below, I’ll just share a veteran’s story with ya’ll…

    I ran into a military service woman at the post office today, a very nice young woman, all dressed in camouflage and tan combat boots. She was shorter and younger than me, and even though I was nervous, I turned around and asked to shake her hand to thank her for her service. To emphasize my point, I asked that she go ahead of me, and we chatted for a couple of minutes (it was the post office, after all). It didn’t hit me until after I left, but I suddenly began to worry about this strange young woman, wherever the military may send her, especially after I saw that documentary about rape in the military. I didn’t want anything to happen to her, and I began to cry thinking about how dangerous her job was and how I will never know if she comes home safe (and unmolested). Anyway, here in the 21st century, it seems we should be smart enough to resolve conflicts without war. War is for bullies. It accomplishes nothing but destruction. Thanks for listening.

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  6. FYI. DPA interest?

    ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A small group of legislators is taking on the arduous task of rewriting the state’s criminal code.

    “There’s just a tremendous imbalance in the criminal code,” said Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque.

    Torraco is the co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee, which was created to revise and update the state’s voluminous criminal code. The other co-chair is Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque.

    It is a task that has not been tackled in its entirety since the 1950s.

    “I’d like to see social workers come to the table. I’d like to see corrections. I’d like to see prosecutor., I’d like to see defense attorneys come to the table,” the first-term senator said.

    When it comes to the revision, everything is on the table from increasing penalties for some crimes like murder to reducing penalties or bringing them more in line with the crime.

    “We have a statute that says spitting on a public building is a crime, and it is punishable by the same amount of jail time as a DWI,” said Torraco.

    Over the years, legislators have tinkered with some laws to reflect current values, but Torraco said there is a lot of updating that still needs to happen.

    “We don’t even properly address Internet crimes, so there’s this whole new world of crimes that New Mexico is not even properly addressing,” she said.

    The subcommittee is made up of four Democrats and four Republicans, and both the Senate and House are represented.

    However, as Torraco mentioned, the goal is to get input from outside the committee, too.

    “Is everybody going to be happy? I don’t know. I hope so,” she said.

    KRQE News 13 spoke with a victim-advocacy group that agrees the criminal code is out of date and needs to be rewritten. The group, however, would like to see special attention paid to victims, which it says is something currently lacking.

    Torraco said the plan is to have a revised criminal code ready by the next 60-day legislative session, which convenes in January 2015.

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  8. I don’t know how that manager thought he had any right to stop them from healing I will support something. I am in silver. My log in is shadows my iPad isn’t letting me log in right. ..?

  9. Those in charge of waging war on those that need cannabis are very much lacking of empathy. That is the dictionary definition of being sociopathic.

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  11. This is what has pushed me over the edge and out of the closet. I’ll join the Drug Policy Alliance of NM and help fight this injustice. Strangely, I called them two days ago not knowing this story broke, to see what I can do to help. I knew about the Correction Officer and his story, but the county memorandum is new. Just waiting to hear back. I can’t march, and I don’t have much money, but it’s time to come out and use my voice. DPA needs us.