The New Mexico Health Department recently decided to expand the number of health conditions that can be treated under the medical cannabis program. Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel approved six new qualifying conditions including opioid addiction which had been refuted by the previous Health Secretary and Governor of New Mexico.
In addition to opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder and three degenerative neurological disorders: Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy are now qualifying conditions. There are now 28 medical conditions in total that are eligible to be treated with medical marijuna in New Mexico.
Secretary Kunkel pointed out that, “Adding these conditions to the Medical Cannabis Program provides medical providers new tools for relieving symptoms that may otherwise be difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to relieve through conventional means. Thousands of New Mexicans may find relief from their symptoms through medical cannabis that they can’t get anywhere else.”
This is a giant step in fighting the opioid epidemic in New Mexico, and should serve as an example to other states who have legalized medical marijuana. This will likely dramatically increase the number of medical marijuana patients in New Mexico which as of May included an estimated 73,350 registered marijuana patients. More patients mean more business which in turn will generate even more jobs and tax revenue.
Governor Lujan Grisham made it clear in her State of the State speech back in March that she wanted opioid addiction added to the list of qualifiers for the medical cannabis program. “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,” she explained.
The state Medical Cannabis Advisory Board was quick to act and voted to add opioid addiction to the list of qualifying condition in March. However, this decision was not made in haste as a 2017 study conducted by the University of New Mexico found that 34% of patients suffering from chronic pain were able to quit using all prescription medication with the help of medical marijuana.
There were some conditions that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board did not recommend, including the addition of Nystagmus (a condition that causes involuntary eye movement) or People Ages 65 and over. The Secretary of Health agreed to their recommendation not to include these qualifying medical conditions. Kunkel also wanted further clarification on the term Substance Use Disorder before adding it as a qualifying condition.