There is now a whole new meaning to the phrase "New Mexico the Land of Enchantment". New Mexico in the last legislative session passed a medical marijuana law which legalized the use of marijuana for patients whose doctors certify they are eligible for the program. in the next few weeks, approved patients, or their approved primary caregivers, would receive temporary certificates allowing them to possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and three immature seedlings. The law allows the use of marijuana for specified conditions including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and HIV-AIDS, as well as by some patients in hospice care.
When this law was going through the legislature about ninety some percent of New Mexico Law Enforcement was adamantly against it. The New Mexico Sheriff's and Police Association of which I am the current president but at the time I was the incoming president, lobbied and testified against the bill. I was called by the Executive Director to join in the lobby efforts and press conferences opposing the bill but I respectfully declined. Much to the amazement of my colleagues I was in support of the bill.
Those of you who have read my blog in the past know I have debated and opposed legalization of drugs as a whole. However, I do support some sort of medical marijuana legislation based on nothing more than compassion. I do not believe that marijuana provides any more medical benefits than other legal prescription drugs could provide. However part of me says, these people are suffering and dying and if smoking a joint makes them feel better so be it. These are individuals whose life span is short and the idea that these individuals will graduate to worse drugs, become criminals to pay for their habit, or become dealers to pay for their habit is probably unlikely for most of them. I also believe that those who are legally certified and go through the process to use the drug legally are probably going to be law abiding citizens as it is.
What I am upset about is the State of New Mexico's recent decision to license and allow patients to "grow their own". I truly do not believe that had this been a component of the original legislation that this would have passed the legislature. I also believe that we are creating a huge problem for law enforcement. When some neighbor or pizza delivery guy calls us and says marijuana is being grown at a certain home we will respond as we usually do. These cases require serious security measures when we approach such a home as we usually do not know if we have a casual user or a dealer. We don't know if we are going to find "Grandpa Joe" with glaucoma or someone with elaborate traps and heavy artillery waiting on the other side of the door.
Who will regulate and inspect these homes licensed to grow marijuana? Who will ensure that "Grandpa Joe's" nieces, nephews, or grandchildren are not picking from the family plants? When criminals learn that "Grandpa Joe" is growing will he be in danger of home invasions and burglary's? The state is making a grave mistake in my opinion. The whole idea of legalizing any one to grow marijuana is crazy as long as it is still an illegal drug for the rest of society. Already a man caught with a number of marijuana plants claimed he had them because "he thought marijuana was legal now in New Mexico". This new law is making news around the country with headlines like "New Mexico in Dope Business", and "Marijuana Law Requires New Mexico to 'Grow Its Own" on Fox news. While I believe Governor Richardson wanted to pass a medical marijuana law to show compassion to the nation I really can't believe he expected to condone people growing their own marijuana.
I know how we got to this place. The federal government does not condone and takes the stand that medical marijuana even when legalized by the states is still illegal. The State of New Mexico is afraid that employees of the state could be charged criminally by the feds for administering the State Medical Marijuana and could be charged for trafficking should we have a state run growing and distributing system. Therefor the State has thrown it upon the patients to grow their own thus the only one who can be charged by the feds is the patient, for growing and using. In other words the state is throwing the patients under the bus should the feds decide to prosecute someone in order to make an example of them.
Once again we are back to my opinion but, isn't this what this blog is all about? Anyway, the state should take the bull by the horns and if they are going to fly in the face of the federal government and approve medical marijuana despite the feds saying they can not, then the state should go all the way and provide a safe and secure means of regulating, growing and distributing the stuff.