Medical Marijuana: Legal fears hack away at state’s pot plan

August 14, 2007

Diana Del Mauro, Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico could have been the first state in the nation to build a centralized production and distribution system for medical marijuana, but the Health Department doesn’t want to take the risk of butting up against federal law.

Upon advice from Attorney General Gary King, Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil said the second phase of the new state law that would have made that happen won’t be pursued.

“The Department of Health will not subject its employees to potential federal prosecution, and therefore will not distribute or produce medical marijuana,” Vigil said in a written statement Wednesday.

That decision appears to leave patients who participate in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program with three options: grow their own marijuana plants; purchase bags of pot on the black market; or get a prescription for the legal, synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol, one of 400 chemicals in the marijuana plant.

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