New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel has approved six new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical cannabis list, including opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism, the state Department of Health announced on Thursday.
The addition of opioid use disorder comes nearly two years after former Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher first rejected the recommendation and former Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed legislation to add the condition to the qualifying conditions list.
Gallagher, again, declined to add opioid use disorder to the program last year.
Officials also added three neurological disorders to the regime – including spinal muscular atrophy, Friederich’s ataxia, and Lewy body disease – bringing the total number of qualifying conditions for the state program to 28.
According to the report, Gov. Lujan Grisham (D) had directed state health officials to add the disorder to the medical cannabis qualifying list during her January State of the State address.
“We need to explore and pursue every available means of responding to the health and wellness needs of our neighbors here in New Mexico. Compassion must guide our decision-making. Today marks an important and long-overdue step forward after too many years of status quo.” – Gov. Grisham in a statement
The state Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted to add opioid use disorder to the list in March while the other conditions were hold-overs from the Martinez administration. A 2017 study by the University of New Mexico found that 34 percent of chronic pain patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program were able to quit using all prescription medication by the last six months of the two-year study.
According to Health Department figures, as of May there were 73,350 registered patients in the state.
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