Martinez to maintain medical marijuana law

SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez does not approve of the New Mexico law that allows certain patients to use marijuana for pain relief, but she will not try to repeal it.

“We have bigger issues that we have to deal with,” Martinez said Thursday during a wide-ranging news conference.

She cited the economy and a state budget deficit that she projected at $450 million as topics more critical than repealing the medical marijuana law. Fighting the medical marijuana law simply is not a priority, she said.

State legislators in 2007 legalized marijuana use for select patients. Those with authorization began to obtain marijuana legally two years after that.

Bobbie Wooten, a paraplegic for 32 years, is one of them. Wooten broke her back in a car accident when she was 18. Now 50, she said marijuana had improved the quality of her life.

“Thank God for all of us who need it,” she said in a telephone interview from her Silver City home.

Before she could obtain nonaddictive marijuana to fight her pain, she said, she had to deal with an array of medications.

“It’s better than having to take a whole list of prescription drugs, which is what I had to do before this law was passed,” Wooten said.

She also tried to dispel the idea that people who use marijuana are unmotivated pleasure seekers.

“I have four degrees and I am wheelchair-bound,” she said. “I taught special education until I retired.”

Sheila Lewis, interim state director of the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance, said 

she was heartened that Martinez would not make medical marijuana an issue.

“We’re glad the governor is respecting the wishes of the people, who overwhelmingly support this law,” Lewis said in an interview.

Lewis said she hoped Martinez would take the time to meet patients who rely on marijuana for pain relief. Their stories might change the governor’s mind about the value of the program, she said.

Martinez, though, said marijuana is an illegal narcotic under federal law, and she does not condone its use.

Len Goodman of Santa Fe is both a marijuana patient and supplier. He said about 1,200 customers buy the drug from him, though not exclusively.

Goodman said he also was in an automobile accident, and he has psychological troubles, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Marijuana helps him live with less pain, he said.

Even with her prosecutor’s background, Goodman said, he was not surprised that Martinez elected not to attack the medical marijuana law. He said she was right that the state has more pressing issues to deal with, but wrong about blanket opposition to marijuana use.

via : Las Cruces Sun-News

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