Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Dies in House as Time Runs Out 2/24/06

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For the second year in a row, an effort to push a medical marijuana bill through the New Mexico legislature has won passage in the state Senate only to die in the House. SB 258, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, supported by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, was only one of a number of Richardson-backed bills that fell victim to Republican filibusters on the last day of the session last Thursday.

After moving swiftly through the Senate, the bill was sent to purgatory by House Speaker Ben Lujan (D-Albuquerque). Instead of sending it to a committee that would be logical, such as judiciary or public health, Lujan detoured the bill into the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, a committee which had never heard it and was known to be hostile to it. Despite passionate testimony from patients and advocates, that committee voted 4-3 to kill the bill.

Last minute efforts by bill supporters finally persuaded Speaker Lujan to pull the bill from the agriculture committee and pass it on to the House Judiciary Committee, but Lujan did not act until 3:45am on Tuesday, the last day of the session. Then, for reasons largely unrelated to medical marijuana, the legislature's Republican minority led filibusters in both houses. On the House side, Rep. Justine Fox (R-Albuquerque) filibustered for most of the last hour of the session, and then the clock ran out.

"It's heartbreaking that one or two members of the House could prevent this bill from getting an up-or-down vote. This legislation deserves a House floor vote, and I hope that next time we'll get it," said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, which led the fight for the bill.

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Issue #424 -- 2/24/06

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Feature: The Olympics Meets the War on Drugs | Feature: Maryland Delegate Introduces Bill to Ease State Aid for Students Affected by Federal Drug Provision | Feature: From the East Bay, the Cannabis Culture Speaks | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Ayahuasca: Supreme Court Okays Use of Psychedelic Tea in Church Rituals | Prohibition: The Wall Street Journal Wavers | Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Moving, Passes Senate Committee | Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Dies in House as Time Runs Out | Southeast Asia: Drug War Success Means Poverty for Laotian Farmers | Canada: British Columbia's New Democrats Say Legalize It | Search and Seizure: Florida Appeals Court Restricts Warrantless Drug Dog Searches | Celebrity Mouth: Bruce Willis Declares War on Cocaine | Web Scan: Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment, Perjury in Police Misconduct | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Community Liaison, PreventionWorks!, Washington, DC | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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