April 5, 2019

Gov. Lujan Grisham signs medical cannabis omnibus bill

Print

New Mexico is set to see some sweeping changes to its medical cannabis law.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 406 into law which is the first major statutorial change to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act since it was enacted in 2007.

The Senate bill made broad changes to the program that range from allowing medical cannabis in schools to allowing licensed manufacturers to process home-grown medical cannabis.

While some changes are straightforward, others will require the state Department of Health, which oversees the Medical Cannabis Program, to promulgate new rules.

Here’s a breakdown of everything SB 406 does:

Medical cannabis in schools

By June 14, medical cannabis will be allowed on some public school campuses under certain circumstances. The law says administering cannabis cannot disrupt the “educational environment” and parents must submit a detailed medication plan, from a qualified medical professional, to the school. The newly signed law does not force schools to allow medical cannabis on school grounds if that district determines federal funding may be at risk. But the law says a school or school district cannot deny a child access to the classroom because they use medical cannabis.

Definitions

While there are some changes to definitions regarding medical cannabis, most of them line up with what’s in current rules. But, now those definitions are cemented in law. One minor change that may impact patients in rural areas involves who can take cannabis to a manufacturer, where the plant yield would be turned into edibles, extracts or derivatives. Previously, DOH only allowed Licensed Non-Profit Producers to send their product to licensed manufacturers. Now, those with a Personal Production License, in other words, those who are licensed to grow their own medical cannabis, can pay to get their plants processed professionally.

Reciprocation

The new law also allows medical cannabis patients from other states that have a medical cannabis program to take part in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program.

Extended renewal period

Now medical cannabis patients can wait three years before renewing their medical cards instead of one year.

Patient protections

Medical cannabis patients will also see some protections. Under the new law, employers cannot fire workers for simply being a medical cannabis patient. The law has some exceptions, like employees who perform safety sensitive jobs. And employers can still terminate a worker for being intoxicated at work.

Patients and parents of patients are also protected under the new law from the Children Youth and Families Department taking custody of their children solely because of medical cannabis. Likewise, the law prevents denied custody rights for just being a medical cannabis patient.  

Consumption areas

The law also allows for licensed establishments to create “consumption areas” as long as they

are approved by the DOH.

Besides signing medical cannabis changes into law, Lujan Grisham also approved a bill related to non-medical cannabis, that may be a step towards full legalization of adult-use, recreational cannabis.

Also passed

The governor this week also signed Senate Bill 323, which will eliminate criminal charges for possession of small amounts of cannabis and replace them with civil penalties, or fines. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Cervantes, opposes full legalization of cannabis but has been pushing versions of his bill to eliminate criminal charges since 2015.