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Medical cannabis patients should keep cards after legalization


Effective April 1, 2022, recreational use of cannabis will be officially legal in New Mexico. Law enforcement and the mental health community are preparing as well. It will take time but New Mexicans will benefit from the legalization efforts.

In 2007, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Act became law and allowed for legitimate medical patients to legally use, buy and grow cannabis.

On April 1, 2022, a legal world will be in place for recreational users, and rules and regulations will be in place to continue to protect the public. Some have waited 50 years to be able to consume cannabis without fear of arrest. More states are establishing medical cannabis programs and more are legalizing as well.

Federal legalization is next if we are going to stop ruining lives. For over 40 years, I have been in the trenches with patients and recreational users. Ultimately the hope is that legalization is going to be beneficial for all.

Growing pains? Of course. The medical and mental health communities must rise to the occasion and actively participate. We need research on long-term effects, especially on developing brains of the young.

Based on anecdotal evidence, cannabis has a profound and positive effect on the quality of life of cancer, pain patients and PTSD patients (many of our cannabis patients are veterans). It should not be seen as a dangerous drug or a threat to someone’s wellbeing. It has been proven that with guidance and education, the benefits of cannabis far outweigh the risks.

My colleagues and I have been serving and certifying medical patients for years, when no one else would. Many patients do not want to smoke; they want to know how to use the herb medicinally.

This year, medical cannabis patients are asking why keep their medical cards if legalization is coming.

Here is what I say:

The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program must be protected at all costs. Medical patients deserve to be respected and protected. The New Mexico Department of Healtheal and practitioners, such as myself and my colleagues, will continue to work toward that end. Medical patients can continue to be certified if they have a legitimate medical condition. The program has had its challenges since 2007 but for the most part it has served the needs of the NM medical patients. There are now over 100,000 medical cannabis patients in NM.

If you are a patient with a medical cannabis card, I would advise, keep your card. Continue to work with your primary-care doctor and your certifying practitioner. There is so much for all to learn.

It is a privilege to be a medical card holder. You deserve the benefits and the quality of life that it brings you. For the record, here are some reasons to keep your medical cannabis card.

  1. It legitimizes you as a medical patient and you have the support of your PCP and your certifying practitioner.
  2. It protects you from potential misunderstandings with law enforcement. Officers of the law are still going to do their jobs to keep us all safe. They need to know if you are a legitimate medical patient or a recreational user.
  3. On April 1, 2022, recreational users will pay a 15 percent excise tax; medical patients will no longer be charged tax.
  4. FYI, as of June 29th 2021, medical patients no longer have to pay to grow for personal use. NM adults over 18 are now allowed to grow 12 plants per household, under local and state rules and for personal use only.

 Hilda Luz Chavez is a traditional naturopath, business Woman, healer and medical cannabis expert with over 40 years’ experience in the field of Natural Medicine. She can be reached at 915-204-5440 or by email at chavezhl@aol.com.                                                 

Hilda Luz Chavez