By Phaedra Haywood
McSorley said New Mexico’s program, which has about 13,000 patients enrolled, is “statistically failing” and would have more like 60,000 participants if it were more user friendly.
McSorley said that when the Legislature created the Erin and Lynn Compassionate Use Act it anticipated it would be doctors on the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board who would devise program policies, not administrators.
But that hasn’t been the case, according to Dr. Laura Brown, a member of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board who said she is concerned about the relationship between the department and the board because the department hasn’t sent representatives to the board’s meetings or responded to the board’s recommendations on the proposed rules.
Department of Health spokesman Kenny Vigil confirmed Monday that former advisory board Chairman Dr. Steve Jenison – who, to the dismay of some advocates, was not reappointed when his term ended in 2013 – has been appointed to fill a vacant spot on the board.
Vigil said about 830 people have submitted written comments on the proposed rule changes – which can be found online at http://www.nmhealth.org – – and written comments will be accepted through Jan. 5. Comments can be submitted by mail to Medical Cannabis Program, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, N.M. 87502, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the comment period ends, hearing officer Susan Hapka will submit her report and recommendations to Department Secretary Retta Ward, who will decide whether to implement the rule changes or make more revisions.
There has to be a way to speed up this process… Waiting for another report from the hearing officer, even though the first one didn’t add anything to the conversation. Then waiting for Ms. Ward to make the final decisions… Who’s idea was it to give so much power to one person?
We’re talking about a program and rules that affect patients who are really sick, some who don’t have the time to twiddle their thumbs while the wheels of government slowly churn. Does the Department of Health understand the suffering that results from this slow-moving train?