An amended version of a Senate bill that would allow agreements between the New Mexico Department of Health and Native American groups about medical cannabis was approved Wednesday by the Senate 25-16. SB 271, sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, received plenty of scrutiny from both Democratic and Republican members.
Most of the concern over Shendo’s bill was that it could result in tribal communities selling medical cannabis to non-tribal members, causing de facto legalization in areas of the state.
That concern seemed to be shared by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. He successfully passed an amendment to the bill that specifies that any medical cannabis program a tribal community creates would only be for members.
“Everytime I asked the sponsor of the bill about the necessity of this, he kept going back to the number of tribal members who participate in medical cannabis,” Ivey Soto said. If the intent is to open this to tribal members, this amendment allows that to happen. If the intent of this bill is to get around the plant count, get around the licences, to blow open the doors of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, then you wouldn’t want this amendment.”
Shendo, a member of the Jemez Pueblo, said he would not support the amendment, although it’s unclear exactly who supported it as it came down to a voice vote.
The bill heads to the House next.
Shendo sponsored a similar bill last year that did not make it through both chambers before the session ended.