March 21, 2007
Medical Marijuana Update
Governor (and Democratic Presidential Candidate) Bill Richardson apparently will sign legislation to legalize medical marijuana in New Mexico. According to the Associated Press,
Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, poised to sign a bill making New Mexico the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana, said Thursday he realizes his action could become an issue in the presidential race.
"So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do," said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. "What we're talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them."
The legislation would create a program under which some patients — with a doctor's recommendation — could use marijuana provided by the state health department. Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday. The governor is expected to sign it in the next few weeks.
Richardson has supported the proposal since he first ran in 2002. But he pushed especially hard for it this year, leaning on some Democrats to change their votes after the bill initially failed.
It is not clear how helpful this proposed law will be to these patients. Just this week, National Public Radio reported on the Ninth Circuit rejected Angel Raich's effort to use medical marijuana. Although sympathetic to her claims and recognizing the California had legalized medical marijuana, the court held that Ms. Raich is not immune from prosecution under federal drug laws. See Raich v. Gonzales (9th Circuit, March 2007).