New Mexico’s health secretary, Lynn Gallagher, has been ridiculously tough on adding conditions to the state’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions list. The New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Advisory Board unanimously voted to add opioid use disorder to the qualifying conditions list. But Gallaher did not approve it.
Anita Briscoe provided additional evidence to support their petition to add opioid use disorder as Gallagher previously cited a lack of research, according to KOB 4 News. Research and data have both been provided to Gallagher in the past. She continues to cite a lack of research and data.
Chad Lozano lost his sister, an Army veteran, to an opioid overdose. He said, “If there was some way that my sister could’ve used cannabis instead of opioids, she’d probably be standing right next to me today.”
Lozano uses medical marijuana for PTSD. He does not think that Gallagher is really taking the information that has been put in front of her into consideration.
Lozano also said, “Her reasoning isn’t rally fact-based. It’s more politically-based.”
Former medical cannabis program medical director, Steve Jenison, said, “It seems very strange that something as important as opioid dependence treatment should not be included in the list of eligible conditions.”
Health Department spokesperson, Paul Rhien, offered the following statement, “Secretary Gallagher considered a similar proposal earlier this year. As opiate use and dependence are serious issues and are of continuous concern in New Mexico, this is not a decision she has taken lightly. While there have been anecdotal reports of some individuals using cannabis to curb opiate addiction, there is little if any medical and scientific evidence or research on the effective use of cannabis for opiate use disorder. All of the medicinal uses for cannabis currently accepted for treatment by the Medical Cannabis Program have all been supported by high-quality evidence. This is not the case with opiate addiction. Further, there already exists successful medically assisted treatments such as use of buprenorphine and methadone, which are considered best-practice methods and are supported by medical evidence. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board is comprised of board-certified medical specialists who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding medical conditions and their treatments. Secretary Gallagher has asked the board to emphasize the strengths and weaknesses of each petition they review and to highlight the medical and scientific evidence behind each petition when submitting their future recommendations.”
After a petition is denied it can be refiled 6-months later. The health secretary is not given a timeline in which she has to respond to petitions. She took six months to decide not to sign the last petition.