New Mexico

Tom Gainor

New Mexico Health Sec. Refuses to Allow MMJ for Opioid Addiction

Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health Lynn Gallagher has again declined to add Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, according to a Drug Policy Alliance press release.

New Mexico’s Medical Advisory Board is made up of board-certified physicians appointed by the Governor, who advise the state on medical matters. The Advisory Board has recommended adding OUD to the list of qualifying conditions once before, in 2017.

Secretary Gallagher vetoed the addition then, as well.

“We lose one or two New Mexicans to overdose every single day. The Secretary’s failure to add this condition is discriminatory and stigmatizing for people suffering from opioid and other substance use disorders. It’s well known that New Mexico needs more options to support people suffering from problematic opioid use. This decision means that medical cannabis, a legitimate option to support symptoms related to OUD and withdrawal from opioids continues to be out of reach. I am hopeful that under a new administration science and compassion will prevail.” — Jessica Gelay, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance

Proponents of treating OUD with cannabis point out that, beyond specific effects on opioid addiction, cannabis has also been clearly shown to treat withdrawal symptoms like nausea and insomnia as well as reduce the intensity of cravings.

In 2017, 500 people in New Mexico died from opioid overdoses. Even the New Mexico legislature — both the House and the Senate — has instructed the Department of Health to add OUD to the list of qualifying conditions.

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