July 16, 2015

Medical marijuana provider names won’t be secret much longer

Less than a week after a lawsuit was filed by an open government group and local journalist, the Susana Martinez administration decided after five years to open up the names of medical marijuana providers.

An Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In California To Appear On Nov. BallotThe Albuquerque Journal first reported the news of the change of the policy that dated back to the Bill Richardson administration and has continued during past Martinez’s first term.

Last week, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and local independent journalist Peter St. Cyr announced an Inspection of Public Records Act lawsuit. The lawsuit argued that keeping the names of the medical marijuana providers secret by Department of Health regulation.

From the Journal:

“The governor has taken a close look at this issue over the past several weeks, and she does not believe this information should be confidential any longer,” Martinez spokesman Chris Sanchez told the Journal. “In a move that will provide better transparency, the governor has directed the New Mexico Department of Health to change the rule, which would now make that information public for the first time.”

The Santa Fe Reporter noted that a report from a Roswell paper showed a hint that this was coming from Martinez.

The paper in question was the Roswell Daily Record:

The governor said the Department of Health would announce which companies receive licenses to grow medical marijuana.

“We’ll tell you who receives them, of course, and who has them and where they are, because people have to know,” she said.

The Santa Fe alt-weekly also noted that there were no answers from the Martinez administration on questions about opening up the names of providers.

The lawsuit won’t be over, however.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government issued a release Thursday afternoon on the Martinez decision.

“Even though we do not believe that the Department’s rule was valid, we commend the action taken by the Governor to rewrite it,” said Greg Williams, FOG president.  “However, it does not resolve the lawsuit. FOG has repeatedly filed requests for the producers’ names under the Inspection of Public Records Act, and those names have not been provided. We call upon DOH to immediately release the names of current and past producers as well as license applicants.”

This shows that the open government group is not just interested in the names of producers, but also in those who wish to become producers.

Job applications and resumes to state agencies are subject to IPRA, as they are considered public documents.