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Journal vs. the state’s medical cannabis program

I despise being denied documents as much as the next reporter. Thomas J. Cole at our conservative daily paper penned this column, frustrated that he couldn’t get his hands on records showing which doctors in the state are recommending patients to New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.

So the state’s secretary of health, Dr. Alfredo Vigil, wrote a response. This all comes to me from Tracy Dingmann over at Clearly New Mexico.

The premise of Cole’s column is that only a few docs in Colorado sign off on most of the medical marijuana certifications in the state. He wants to know if that’s the case here, too.

When I interviewed Dr. K. Paul Stoller last year, he pointed out that it’s dangerous for physicians to make these recommendations. Marijuana—even when legalized for medical use by a state—is still illegal under federal law. Plenty of doctors won’t take the risk in fear of losing their DEA license, which allows them to prescribe medication.

So that might explain why only a handful of physicians in Colorado and New Mexico are willing put their neck on the line in this way—and why they might not want their names in the papers.

Further, the Journal’s Cole also fails to recognize that the doctors sign off on certifications, but it’s actually up to the medical director at the Department of Health to approve a patient and issue a registry ID card. Regardless of which physician a patient sees, all applications are red- or green-lighted by the state.

 
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