ALBUQUERQUE A freshman New Mexico lawmaker whos a high school teacher in civilian life is trying to repeal the states medical marijuana law.
The law sends a bad message to kids, that somehow marijuana is good for you, said Republican Rep. Jim Smith of Sandia Park, who teaches at East Mountain Charter High School east of Albuquerque.
Gov. Susana Martinez said during her campaign last year the states medical marijuana law put state employees in the position of violating federal law. The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for drugs that have no currently accepted medical use.
But after taking office Jan. 1, the Republican governor focused on New Mexicos pressing budget issues and said repeal was not a priority in the 2011 legislative session.
Smith said, however, he was encouraged by an effort in Montana to repeal that states medical marijuana law. Montana House Speaker Mike Milburn argues the multimillion-dollar marijuana industry has gone far beyond what voters envisioned when they voted for it in 2004.
Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said she would sign a repeal of New Mexicos medical marijuana law if it reached her desk.
Some legislators who voted for the law originally said earlier this month they were troubled by the expansion in medical conditions that qualify for the program and the growing number of people using it.
Only patients with conditions approved by the health secretary can legally use medical marijuana. When New Mexicos law went into effect in July 2007, the state had seven approved conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and HIV-AIDS. Now there are 16, plus some people in hospice care can qualify. The program is overseen by the state Department of Health.
As of Feb. 16, the day before Smith introduced his bill, New Mexico had 3,218 active patients.
Smiths measure is expected to be heard next week by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, whose vice chairman is Democratic Rep. Antonio Maestas of Albuquerque, who sponsored the medical marijuana law in the House.
Maestas said the program has proved to be more valuable than expected, with soldiers returning from war using it to treat post traumatic stress disorder.
Moving medical marijuana out of the criminal justice realm is difficult for many people to accept, but I believe the vast majority are in agreement, it was a great decision and should not be rolled back, he said.
Smith said its hard to argue against people in pain who say medical marijuana makes them feel better, but he believes there are medical alternatives.
He said hes encouraged by the 27 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, who signed onto the one-page bill when it was introduced earlier this month.
The people I got to sign the bill were very passionate about wanting to get rid of medical marijuana, Smith said.