Add New Mexico to the list of states that permit the medical use of marijuana:
Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, poised to sign a bill making New Mexico the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana, said Thursday that he realizes his action could become an issue in the presidential race.
"So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do," said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. "What we're talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them."
I don't get how Richardson can predict the number of patients who will qualify for marijuana, or why he thinks pain relief will be the only application. The Drug War Chronicle reports that "the bill will allow patients to use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal-cord injuries, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS,…and other uses approved by the state Department of Health. Unlike other medical marijuana states, patients will not be able to grow their own medicine. Instead, the state Department of Health will be required to set up a system to license providers and will distribute the marijuana to qualified patients itself."
And exactly how risky is it for Richardson to back medical marijuana? Polls indicate the policy has broad public support, especially among Democrats. It's hard to believe letting sick people use a medicine that helps alleviate their symptoms would cost Richardson many votes he otherwise would have gotten.