Governor Richardson Poised to be First Presidential Candidate to Enact Medical Marijuana Legislation

New Mexico is on the verge of becoming the twelfth state to approve doctor-recommended medical marijuana for the sick and dying, and only the fourth state legislature to enact such a measure. Following intense debate, the New Mexico House passed the measure after including an amendment to prevent distribution of medical cannabis within 300 feet of any church, school or day-care center. Gov. Richardson summed up the battle's high stakes, "I am pleased that the Legislature did the right thing, reconsidered this important bill and supported a humane option for New Mexicans who endure some of the most painful diseases imaginable."

Once Gov. Richardson signs the bill--expected in days, he will become the first presidential candidate to have supported medical marijuana by signing it into law. Richardson's strong support was critical throughout this process. The hallmark of New Mexico's medical marijuana bill is its strict controls and safeguards to prevent abuse. It will be one of the most tightly regulated programs in the country. The State Department of Health will develop the program's rules and regulations and also regulate licensed producers, ensuring that security and safety issues are addressed. After a recommendation from their doctor, patients who suffer from debilitating and life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or glaucoma, can apply to a state-appointed medical review board for admission into the program. New Mexico is sending a strong message that states can and should exercise their right to do what is in the best interest of their citizens free from intrusion from the Federal government.

But the fight continues. Wednesday's New York Times headline lamented, "Dying Woman Loses Appeal on Marijuana as Medication." Angel Raich lost her appeal in federal appellate court where she argued the federal ban on medical marijuana robs her of her constitutional right to life. In its decision, The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sympathized with Ms. Raich's plight after seeing "uncontroverted evidence" that she needs marijuana to survive, and recognizing that "the use of marijuana for medical purposes is gaining traction."

Separately, a federal trial judge yesterday took the government to task for vindictive prosecution in a medical marijuana case. A Federal District Court judge dismissed trumped up money laundering and tax evasion charges against marijuana advocate, Ed Rosenthal. It would appear that the lies and the increasingly extremist bullying tactics of our White House and discredited obstinance of our Justice Department on this issue--as with so many other issues--are coming home to roost.