▼ Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)

In Short

Gov. Richardson is the only presidential candidate who has signed state medical marijuana legislation into law. He has also promised to end the federal raids on medical marijuana patients.

What Gov. Richardson Has Done:

On April 2, 2007, as governor of New Mexico, Richardson signed into law a bill protecting patients who use medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval, making New Mexico the 12th state to pass such a law. Gov. Richardson is also said to have lobbied heavily for the bill’s passage in the New Mexico Senate and House.

What Gov. Richardson Has Said:

On May 7, 2007, at a meet-and-greet in Hooksett, New Hampshire, Gov. Richardson said, “We must protect the seriously ill; we certainly must protect these people.” When GSMM staff asked him if he would end the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients, Gov. Richardson responded, “Yes, with the proper safeguards and protections.”

On July 16, 2007, at a campaign event Gov. Richardson said the following in response to a question from GSMM: “Well, I don’t support, for instance, decriminalizing marijuana, but for individuals like you — you know, I had a bunch of people in New Mexico that had cancer, that were suffering, and they said they wanted a chance to get relief, to ease their pain. And I said if we can have a program, a plan, supervised by our department of health that is very strict, that has safeguards, I’ll support this, even if it isn’t popular. We don’t do enough cancer research in this country. We don’t do enough Alzheimer’s research. We should be doing more about stem cell research and a lot of kids that have autism right now, it’s proliferating. Our veterans’ PTSD. So you know, if there is a relief, a small way I can help, and do it properly like medical marijuana, I will do it. I am not going to legalize marijuana and hard drugs and cocaine. But, if this is properly supervised, I will do that and I hope your pain is eased and I’ve made. at least in New Mexico, the lives of those that want to have a little relief.”

During a meet-and-greet on July 27 in Concord, New Hampshire, a GSMM staffer thanked Gov. Richardson for his continued support for protecting medical marijuana patients and asked him what he thought about the six Republican candidates who have said they would arrest the sick and dying in medical marijuana states like New Mexico.

Gov. Richardson responded, “Don’t worry, if I’m elected, that won’t happen. Look, I am not for decriminalizing marijuana, but … there are people that are dying that just want their pain eased, and so they came to me in New Mexico, 199 human beings that said, look we just want it for medicinal reasons, to be able to use medical marijuana to ease our pain. And I said, okay, let’s find a way that there’s proper Department of Health safeguards that, you know, we don’t have running rampant a bunch of gardens with you-know-what. Let’s do it right. And it’s working, it’s working. And it doesn’t mean you decriminalize, although I will tell you the war on drugs is not working. It’s just not working. Lets have more treatment, more education; you know, lets have a program in our prisons where you give these men and women some kind of job skill or treatment, so they don’t come back. So many things we’re not doing.”

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) in Concord, NH on 7/26/07

On September 2, a week after a seriously ill New Mexico resident was raided and arrest by the DEA for using medical marijuana, a GSMM staffer asked Gov. Richardson at a Plymouth house party what he planned to do to protect medical marijuana patients. Gov. Richardson responded: “I’m not for decriminalizing drugs — marijuana, cocaine. I do think the war on drugs has been a failure because we’ve got to do more in treatment and rehabilitation. We can’t just have more penalties and incarcerate. It has to all be a duel strategy.” He continued: “I had 30 people that had cancer, about a year and a half ago, come to see me and they said, ‘We don’t have health care, we’re probably going to die, we would like something to ease the pain, and we understand that medical marijuana does that,’ they said that to me. ‘Will you pass a law in New Mexico, along with nine other states that have it, like California, they have medical marijuana?’ And I asked my experts, I said, ‘Can we find a way to make sure this is safeguarded, we don’t have these weed gardens all over the place, can we do it right?’ My health people said, ‘We can do it.’ We are only talking about 109 people. And so we passed a law, and I took a lot of heat. You know, sheriffs around the country, White House drug policy [office] … I was just trying to help people that were suffering. And we instituted a program, and guess what happened? The Bush administration said, ‘This is terrible, we will prosecute those department of health care workers that are implementing this law. Prosecute them, because they’re violating the law.’ And they also dragged this man, a paraplegic, in his home, who was certified under the program, they arrested him. Then later they said, ‘We didn’t know it was a state-approved program.’ You know, the Bush people instead of going after drug dealers are going against people that are dying. I mean, that’s the ludicrousness of our approach to many issues … I’m going to fight the Bush people. I’m not going to let them — this is a matter of state sovereignty. If my legislature and the governor pass a law, for medicinal reasons and with full protections, we’ll see you in the courts. And I said to the Bush people, don’t arrest a poor $60,000-a-year researcher. Arrest me, come after me, because I pushed for this law. Anyway, that’s not getting me many votes either.”

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) on 9/2/07

On October 11, GSMM staff attended a Concord house party for Gov. Richardson with GSMM volunteer and seriously ill resident Linda Macia. Macia asked Gov. Richardson: “First, I would like to thank you for the understanding, support, and compassion you have shown towards medical marijuana patients. Because I’m allergic or intolerant to conventional prescription medications, I have tried medical marijuana. In New Hampshire, our governor — Gov. Lynch — will soon be considering medical marijuana legislation. From one governor to another governor, what would you say to Gov. Lynch while he considers supporting this legislation?”

Gov. Bill Richardson–Concord house party–Oct. 11, 2007

Gov. Richardson responded: “I would say to him, it’s the right thing to do, and you should do it, but do it — I’ll tell you what we’re doing. I had people like you come to see me about a year and a half ago and this is what they said to me — people with cancer, glaucoma, serious illnesses — and they said, ‘You know we have no health insurance, and we want something to ease our pain, and we think that medical marijuana would ease our pain, would you propose a bill to permit medical marijuana?’ … I looked at these women and men I said, ‘Can we find a way to do it right, can it be done and administered by qualified professionals?’ … And my department of health said yes. And so we’re starting to administer the program and those that are suffering are getting medical marijuana. But guess what? Guess what the office of drug control is trying to do to New Mexico? I got word that the Office of [National] Drug Control [Policy] at the White House wants to prosecute my little state employees that are administering this. And they’ve threatened to prosecute. And that is so wrong, instead of going after drug dealers. Then they had a man in Malaga, New Mexico who was taking it for medicinal purposes. The DEA arrested that guy. ‘Oh we didn’t know that this man was getting medical marijuana and that the law permitted it.’ They released him, but you know this is the kind of intolerant society we live in. So I appreciate what you said. I just think, properly administered, safeguards, you know, for your suffering.”

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