Talon News - Good Local News

By Lisa Bailey



September 15, 2017

Lisa Bailey

Kim (left) and Barbara at their store in downtown Aztec

Patients Helping Patients, those are the words on the Compassionate Heart LLC literature and business cards. It does not take long to recognize how central these words are to the purpose of proprietors Kim D'Spain and Barbara Slay. Both Kim and Barbara know from personal experience how effective cannabis can be in treating certain conditions. Their desire is to help others by educating the public and empowering those with health issues to understand the potential use of cannabis in their treatment. Their business is located at 106 S. Main in Aztec and helps New Mexicans obtain and renew their New Mexico Cannabis Cards.

In spite of increased awareness about the benefits of cannabis, and changes in laws allowing the medical and/or recreational use of cannabis in many areas of the United States, it seems there is still a stigma associated with cannabis and its use. People's feelings about the subject are not the only hurdle to overcome. Kim and Barbara's quest to establish this business has been challenging, navigating governing agencies scurrying to regulate something that they do not necessarily know much about.

Kim is a two time cancer survivor, and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She shares, "I know this helps, and I take zero pharmaceuticals" (post cancer treatment). She is passionate about this mission, and passed that passion along to her son who chose to pursue a chemistry degree and now works as a chemist inspired by Kim's battles with cancer.

Barbara also suffers from PTSD; however, in her case it is seeing how effective the cannabis program has been in treating her wife Stacey's complex medical issues that compels Barbara. The patients Kim and Barbara serve have many such success stories. They feel blessed when they are able to be a piece of that journey leading to better quality of life, and at times, even recovery! Their personal stories, patient stories and developed knowledge of the subject make them a resource worth considering within the healing community. There are 21 qualifying conditions that are recognized by the New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program. People with these conditions can submit an application to the Department of Health. Once approved, the patient receives a card, a list of licensed providers and program provisions. The cards are valid for one year.

While the process sounds simple, Kim and Barbara explained it is not always easy. The application packet requires a doctor's signature. Many times doctors will recommend the use of cannabis but often are unwilling to sign the paperwork if they work for an entity that is receiving federal funding. The conflict in federal and state laws is probably to blame. On the Americans for Safe Access site, a group dedicated to "Advancing Legal Medical Marijuana Therapeutics and Research," they clarify in a 2017 article that, despite medical cannabis laws in 44 states, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. 811), which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis (http://www.safeaccessnow.org/federal_marijuana_law).

Barbara hypothesizes that many of the laws regarding cannabis were created during prohibition, and were never revisited. When liquor became legal again, those manufacturers would likely not welcome what they saw as competition. (Ironically, today's growers can breed the euphoric effects out of cannabis). Relatively recently, when states began changing laws to accommodate medical and/or recreational use of cannabis, they conflicted with the antiquated federal laws. Perhaps this is the basis of the confusion about the use, rules and regulations of cannabis and associated subjects such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and hemp.

It seems widely accepted that cannabis can be helpful in the treatment of pain and nausea, however, medical advances indicate there is much more to it. Yet, federal laws have not changed in spite of these new findings. Kim and Barbara believe that cannabis may be able to assist in many conditions that are not included in the 21 qualifying conditions recognized by the New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program. For instance, people being treated for various issues, including opiate addiction, express to Kim and Barbara that they do not like how their prescribed medications, "make them feel." However, Compassionate Hearts is committed to operating with integrity, within the New Mexico guidelines. Perhaps the list will be expanded in the future. In the meantime, Barbara concludes with, "There's help, there is relief that does not include pharmaceuticals, or can be a supplement to pharmaceuticals. We are here, you don't have to go to Albuquerque."


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