Should New Hampshire permit medicinal marijuana?
By: LFDA Editor
On July 23, 2013, Gov. Maggie Hassan made New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medicinal marijuana.
She signed the House and Senate passed HB 573
in 2013. Under the bill, four alternative treatment centers will be licensed by the state to dispense marijuana to qualifying patients.
Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pancreatitis, spinal cord injury or disease, and traumatic brain injury are some of the qualifying conditions.
The original version of the bill permitted marijuana cultivation by patients, but concerns over law enforcement led to the provision's removal.
In signing the bill, Hassan said
: "Allowing doctors to provide relief to patients through the use of appropriately regulated and dispensed medical marijuana is the compassionate and right policy for the State of New Hampshire..."
The treatment centers are expected to open in 2015.
Proponents of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of terminal illness and chronic diseases. The American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association, and American Public Health Association are some of the major health organizations to support the medicinal value of marijuana.
Opponents argue that marijuana is an addictive, non-FDA approved drug that adversely affects the lungs, immune system, and brain.
According to 2013 WMUR Granite State poll, 79% of New Hampshire residents support a medicinal marijuana law (57% strongly and 22% somewhat).
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted medicinal marijuana laws.
Rep. Virginia O'Brien Irwin (D-Newport) is the primary sponsor of HB 117, a 2015 bill that would allow physician assistants to prescribe medicinal marijuana.
Rep. Ted Wright (R-Moultonborough) is the primary sponsor of HB 164, a 2015 bill that requires the state to begin processing applications for medical marijuana ID cards no later than July 23, 2015.
Rep. Joseph Lachance (R-Manchester) is the primary sponsor of HB 165, a 2015 bill which broadens the medical conditions that qualify for a medicinal marijuana prescription to include many general symptoms.
Rep. Stephen Schmidt is the primary sponsor of HB 476, a 2015 bill that adds epilepsy, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease to the list of medical conditions qualifying for medicinal marijuana.
Rep. Ted Wright is the primary sponsor of HB 593, a 2015 bill that permits qualifying patients and registered caregivers to grow medicinal marijuana at home.
Sen. John Reagan is the primary sponsor of SB 22, a 2015 bill that allows satellite marijuana dispensaries, and makes other small changes to the law governing medicinal marijuana. Sen. Reagan is also the primary sponsor of SB 54, which requires a medicinal marijuana treatment centers to give payment in lieu of taxes to a municipality if the center's nonprofit status grants a property tax exemption.
Lastly, Sen. Reagan is sponsoring SB 240, which protects certified public accountants from prosecution or penalty for providing services to medical marijuana treatment centers and patients.
Legislators proposed five 2014 bills related to medicinal marijuana.
Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) was the prime sponsor of SB 234, a 2014 bill that creates deadlines for the criminal background check for caregivers, and repeals the requirement that marijuana cultivation locations be confidential. That bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Hassan.
Rep. Donald Wright sponsored HB 1622, a 2014 bill that allows home-growing of medical marijuana. The House passed that bill, but HB 1622 was sent to interim study in the Senate, which effectively killed the bill.
The House and Senate both passed Wright's HB 1296, which adds a member of the New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs to the advisory council overseeing the implementation of the medical marijuana law. It was signed into law by Governor Hassan.
Wright also sponsored HB 1616, which would add epilepsy, lupus, and Parkinson’s disease to the list of conditions qualifying for medicinal marijuana; HB 1616 would also require medical marijuana to be in a locked container when in a car. The House sent HB 1616 to interim study, effectively killing the bill.
Lastly, Rep. Donna Schalchman (D-Exeter) sponsored HB 1623, a 2014 bill to prohibit advertising by medical marijuana treatment centers. The House killed that bill in March.
Former Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat like Hassan, vetoed a medical marijuana bill (SB 409) in 2012. In his veto message, Gov. Lynch expressed concern with the legislation's inability to control marijuana cultivation sites. The Senate fell three votes shy of a veto override.