Alibi V.26 No.29 • July 20-26, 2017 

Baked Goods

Dangerously Still

Baked Goods logo
Rob M.

Everything is quiet on the Hill. Congress will soon be voting on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which denies the Justice Department funds for prosecuting dispensaries in states where medical cannabis is legal. The previous amendment expires in September, and although it seems like the consensus is that it will be passed again, good ol' Attorney General Sessions made everyone clinch up and grind their teeth when he sent a letter to congressional leaders in May, asking that they vote against the amendment's renewal. And only a month earlier, he had written a memo calling for the Justice Department's Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to review policies in a number of areas, including cannabis. The memo asks for policy recommendations “no later than July 27.”

What does this all mean? That we cross our fingers and hope Congress knows what it's doing.

Anti-Drug Group Sends Cannabis Complaints to Health Officials

The Carlsbad Anti-Drug/Gang Coalition, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create “safe, healthy, drug and gang/crime free environment,” wrote a letter to the New Mexico Medical Board and New Mexico Board of Pharmacy, in which they listed a number of concerns they had with … well … cannabis dispensaries.

Number One: They object to the use of the label “pharmaceutical” by cannabis dispensaries in the state. Number Two: The state doesn't require any sort of license to be a budtender. Number Three: Dispensaries aren't listed on the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing's website—only the Department of Health's site—and its contents are outdated.

Get this: I know you want me to boo and hiss, but they have some pretty strong points that medical cannabis patients should also be concerned with. Yes, the letter does state that the organization has “a long history of opposing the use of marijuana as a medical substance, or for recreational use,” and it also shows their lack of research skills when they say they “cannot think of any other controlled substance that has dual use.” (Um. Opioids? Cocaine? Adderall? Come on, people! Learn to use Google, already.)

And, yes. I know that if I give them an inch, they'll take ten miles, but the truth is the amount of information available online concerning the state's medical cannabis program is slim and embedded in one of the most confusing sites ever. Good luck finding a list of operating dispensaries.

Let's also talk about the licensing of budtenders. I've met some cool 'tenders in this city, and I know going through a licensing process would be hard on them and their companies, but I've heard some crazy things repeated in showrooms across ABQ. I've heard a 'tender tell a patient she could eat raw cannabis to get the effects of edibles (she can't). I've heard a 'tender tell a patient he could get “a little head buzz” off of a CBD pen (he can't). I once heard a budtender tell the whole room that Trump was going to send the DEA into medical dispensaries within a week, and we should stock up (I didn't).

Having even a short, four-hour class about the known science of cannabis could go a long way in developing informed patients. They do exist, but they aren't required. Hell, even McDonald's employees have to go through a hand-washing class before they tell you what's on your burger.

And as for the word “pharmaceutical,” which is used in only one cannabis dispensary in the town of Carlsbad: Let's look to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which says “pharmaceutical” means “of, relating to, or engaged in pharmacy.” And “pharmacy” means “the art, practice, or profession of preparing, preserving, compounding, and dispensing medical drugs.” Seems obvious to me.

Pearce Tentatively Pro-Cannabis?

Congressman Steve Pearce recently became the first Republican to join the gubernatorial race. Considering the right's history with cannabis, I've been anxiously waiting to see who would jump in and what their view on cannabis would be. Governor Susana Martinez has made me very leery of conservative candidates.

But surprisingly—despite his party-line voting record—Pearce has made some comments which give the appearance of a man who's nervously siding with cannabis proponents. He definitely isn't screaming about closing down dispensaries, which is good.

In a recent interview with the Silver City Sun-News, he said he supports “looking more closely” at medical use of cannabis and “has been moved by patients who share stories of finding relief from using cannabis.” Regarding legalization of recreational use, Pearce said he's been watching Colorado and that “there are questions” about whether New Mexico should follow their lead.

On the Democrat side of the fence, three of the four declared gubernatorial candidates—Sen. Joseph Cervantes, US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and former TV executive Jeff Apodaca—have strongly spoken in favor of cannabis. Even alcohol-prevention teacher Peter DeBenedittis, the only Democratic candidate to avoid explicitly supporting pro-cannabis policies, called the expansion of the medical cannabis program “inevitable.”

The future is looking bright for New Mexico, dear reader.