Monday, January 30, 2006

Federal Medical Marijuana Stance Fails to Impress N.M. Lawmakers

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The White House drug czar's office, in Santa Fe to argue against a proposed medical marijuana law, got a cool reception from New Mexico lawmakers, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Jan. 28.

Office of National Drug Control Policy official David Murray told the state Senate Judiciary Committee that marijuana is addictive and has no proven medical benefits. He characterized backers of the legislation as legalization supports and compared them to "medicine shows, traveling charlatans and snake-oil salesmen."

But many lawmakers disagreed with the tenor and substance of Murray's remarks, notably when he criticized supporters of the bill as "cynical and manipulative" for bringing pain patients to the state capital to testify in favor of the measure.

"I don't know how you do it back East," said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen), "but this is the people's house. Everybody has a right to be here just as much as you do. When you said this to us, you showed us where you were really at. I don't think you should go to a state and say such things about their people."

Republicans also slammed Murray for his remarks. "We are not talking about the healing power of marijuana," said Sen. Clint Harden (R-Clovis). "The purpose of this is to reduce pain." Sen. Rod Adair (R-Roswell) disagreed with Murray's claim that a medical-marijuana bill would increase recreational use of the drug.

The Senate Judiciary Committee then approved the bill and sent it to the floor with a "pass" recommendation.


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