Border Patrol Cuts No Slack for Medical Marijuana Users in New Mexico
Medical marijuana is legal in the state of New Mexico, but federal border patrol agents operating in the southern part of the state have been seizing residents’ cannabis as allowed under federal law.
The actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) around Las Cruces, the state’s second largest city, have frustrated New Mexicans authorized to carry and use marijuana products for medicinal purposes.
State Representative Bill McCamley, a Democrat representing part of the city, has criticized CBP. He told the Albuquerque Journal that “legal card-carrying medical marijuana patients can’t carry their marijuana anywhere else in the state.”
“Their official policy is to detain folks and seize their medicine,” he said. “Other agencies are being more moderated and understanding what states want to do.”
Those other agencies include the U.S. Department of Justice, which, since 2009, has backed off on arresting users or distributors of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.
But under federal law, marijuana possession of any kind is still illegal, and CBP officials say their duty is to enforce those statutes.
“Illegal substances found by U.S. Border Patrol agents during inspections/searches are subject to seizure and will be seized,” El Paso Sector Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero told the Journal in an email. He added that prosecution “will be considered on a case by case basis in consultation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our investigative partners.”
With the support of the state’s two U.S. senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, all Democrats, McCamley sent a letter to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske asking him to revise his agency’s policy regarding medical marijuana.
He told the newspaper “with states like Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana, most of the agencies of the federal government have changed their policies to reflect the reality.”
To Learn More:
Border Patrol Seizes Medical Marijuana in New Mexico (by Lauren Villagran, Albuquerque Journal)
Vast Majority of Border Patrol Drug Arrests are of U.S. Citizens (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Bipartisan Amendment to Defund Obama Medical Marijuana Raids (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Border Patrol Using Drones to Battle Marijuana Trade (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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