NM Makes Changes In Medical Cannabis Program, Zinke Plans Visit Along US-Mexico Border

Mar 17, 2018

New Mexico Makes Application Changes In Medical Pot Program Associated Press

New Mexico has changed the application for patients wanting to participate in the state's medical marijuana program.

The Health Department said Friday the application is now two pages rather than four and can be completed online and then printed for signing. The applications still must be submitted by mail or in person.

Certifying practitioners also are required to send medical records instead of writing lengthy explanations.

Patients must meet at least one of 21 conditions to qualify for a medical marijuana card.

Nearly 49,000 patients were enrolled as of the end of February, with almost half of them listing post-traumatic stress disorder as a condition.

Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher says the changes stem from months of work. She says the aim is a more straight-forward process to better serve patients and practitioners.

Zinke Plans To Visit Refuge, Monument Along US-Mexico BorderAssociated Press

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

Interior Department officials say Zinke's planned border visit over the weekend will include stops at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

An announcement of the visit says Zinke plans to make an "on-the-ground assessment" of the refuge and tour the monument.

Both facilities are under Zinke's department. They're located within the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which is a busy crossing point for drug smugglers and people entering the United States illegally.

The National Mining Association says it will meet with Zinke on Monday morning around Phoenix. Zinke also has a planned discussion later that day with tribal leaders and a press briefing on the impact of opioids in American Indian communities.

New Mexico DWI Fatalities In 2016 Drop 16 Percent From 2016 Associated Press

New Mexico's DWI fatalities dropped 16 percent in 2017 from the previous year.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the decrease of alcohol-related fatalities from 173 in 2016 to 145 in 2017 on Friday as she said law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force over the weekend to crack down on drunken driving during St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

The number of alcohol-involved crashes decreased from 2,073 in 2016 to 1,805 in 2017, according to preliminary data.

The weekend crackdown will include special saturation patrols by police and DWI checkpoints.

The state Department of Transportation has just issued a new television ad campaign called "Life of the Party." It encourages New Mexicans to stop others from getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking.

EPA May Be Overstating Claims From Mine Spill Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has almost finished a review of damage claims from a Colorado mine spill the agency accidentally triggered.

But an internal agency accounting of those claims could be off by tens of millions of dollars.

It's the latest in a series of complications and setbacks since EPA contractors unleashed 3 million gallons of wastewater, turning waterways in three states a bright yellow-orange.

An EPA spreadsheet says the claims totaled more than $2.5 billion for economic losses and personal injuries from the 2015 spill. The Associated Press obtained the document under an open records request.

The spreadsheet appears to overstate by $100 million the value of claims submitted by a law firm for a dozen clients.

The EPA didn't immediately respond to an email asking whether it could verify the accuracy of its list.

Dallas, French Companies Form Venture For Nuke Waste Plant Associated Press

A Dallas company and a France-based multinational corporation are forming a joint venture to license an interim storage site in West Texas for high-level nuclear waste.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists announced on Tuesday their intent to form the joint venture.

Waste Control Specialists had notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission three years ago of its plan to seek the license to build the facility in rural Andrews County, Texas, that would store spent fuel rods from power plants. There's currently no such disposal site in the U.S.

The proposed site is five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.

Orano USA is part of the Paris, France-based Orano that specializing in nuclear power and renewable energy.

State To Mark Stretch Of US Highway 285 As Safety Corridor Associated Press

A stretch of highway in southeast New Mexico will be designated as a safety corridor, allowing police to double the fines for traffic violations.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation on Thursday announced the designation for the section of U.S. Highway 285 from the town of Loving to the border with Texas.

According to the Eddy County Sheriff's Office, nine people died on this stretch of roadway last year. The deaths spurred residents and officials to search for ways to improve safety.

State officials say that in addition to the higher traffic tickets, the safety corridor designation will improve road signage and provide funding for police to work overtime.

The state department says 12 signs will be added to this highway section to mark the corridor.

Forecasters Warn Of Fire Danger, Crop Damage Associated Press

Forecasters and climatologists say the amount of moisture received across the United States' southern high plains since October has been ridiculously low, resulting in critical fire danger and winter wheat crops being reduced to stubble across several states.

Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Friday during a national briefing that some areas in the region have received less than one-tenth of an inch of rain in the past five months.

He said the lack of rain has combined with above normal temperatures across parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to make for record dry conditions in some spots.

He warned that the warm and dry weather is expected to continue through the spring, resulting in continued crop damage, dwindling irrigation supplies and more wildfires. He showed satellite maps that show smoke and dust plumes moving across the region.

Judge Happy With Commitment In Albuquerque Police Reform Associated Press

A New Mexico judge says he is satisfied with the commitment leaders have shown in addressing excessive force issues at the Albuquerque Police Department.

The Albuquerque Journal reports officials have been working for three years to solve issues highlighted in a Department of Justice investigation, which found a pattern of excessive force.

At the latest hearing on the reform held by U.S. District Judge Robert Brack on Thursday, officials and community advocates say they are impressed with Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier's approach to the reform and their willingness to talk to the community.

Both took office in December.

The reforms were expected to last between four to six years and cost about $4.5 million during the first four years.

Brack says although the project is behind schedule, he is optimistic.