New Mexico Health Secretary Rejects Adding ‘Opioid Use Disorder’ to MMJ List

New Mexico Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher has rejected several recommendations by the state Medical Cannabis Program advisory board, including their proposal to add “opioid use disorder” to the list of medical cannabis qualifying conditions, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

The board had approved the measure 5-1 last November, which drew wide bipartisan support among lawmakers, who also passed legislation to add the disorder — but that was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez in April.

Gallagher struck down every recommendation proposed by the board, including adding Alzheimer’s disease to the condition list, allowing telemedicine as a means to enroll new patients, and increasing plant counts for nonprofit caregivers.

In her decision, Gallagher wrote that while there are anecdotal reports of patients addicted to opioids finding relief from medical cannabis, there “appears to be little if any medical literature that actually addresses the effect of cannabis usage on persons with a diagnosed opiate use disorder.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse would disagree, however, concluding in May after two studies that “the reduction in [opioid] deaths was present only in states with dispensaries (not just medical marijuana laws) and was greater in states with active dispensaries.”

“I am concerned that utilizing one addictive substance to treat dependence on another without reliable medical evidence and human research studies is problematic at best considering our current opiate epidemic,” Gallagher wrote, echoing language included in Gov. Martinez’s veto message.

In April, the advisory board also recommended adding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; autism; anxiety; depression; chronic headaches, including migraines; sleep disorders; and dystonia, a neurological condition that causes muscle spasms, tremors and other problems with movement. Gallagher has not yet decided on those recommendations.