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Andreas Dress

New Mexico Medical Cannabis Changes Spark Confusion for Inmates

Recent changes to New Mexico’s medical cannabis rules could potentially grant access to inmates throughout the state.

Full story after the jump.

Registered medical cannabis patients on parole or probation in New Mexico will not face penalties for using their recommended products, according to guidance from the state Corrections Department; however, it is unclear whether that policy also applies to inmates and those awaiting trial.

Legislation signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last week included language applying to individuals in state and local supervision which states: “A person who is serving a period of probation or parole or who is in the custody or under the supervision of the state or a local government pending trial as part of a community supervision program shall not be penalized for conduct allowed under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.”

The language, however, begs the question, “who is in custody or under state supervision?”

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, the bill sponsor, told NM Political Report that he reads it as those awaiting trial and “would be subject to the same restrictions that anybody would be in jail or prison” after their release.

Duke Rodriguez, CEO of state-licensed medical cannabis producer New Mexico Top Organics Ultra Health, disagrees with the sponsor’s reading, pointing to a section of the new law that reads: “A qualified patient’s use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act shall be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication.”

“Inmates, by law, must be provided reasonable health care by the state. If medical cannabis is a sanctioned activity by the state, then it seems logical by public policy that these inmates would have reasonable access. I’m not sure why there would be any confusion.” – Rodriguez, to NM Political Report

It’s unclear whether lawmakers will draft or pass new laws to deal with the issue but Rodriguez believes officials will have to fix the issue sooner than later.

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