New Hampshire Legislation to Approve Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 07/19/2013 in Medical Marijuana Legalization
Medical patients in New Hampshire have been anxiously awaiting Governor Maggie Hassan’s signature of approval on the medical marijuana bill currently in legislation. Unfortunately, however, it seems patients will have to wait a little longer than expected.
The bill would allow patients with specified conditions including, but not limited to, cancer, HIV, Hepatitis C, Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy to obtain up to two ounces of medical marijuana from one of four dispensaries that are scheduled to open with the passing of the bill.
New Hampshire Legislature went forward with passing the bill, which Governor Hassan promised to sign on June 26th. However, the bill remains one of over three dozen bills which have yet to reach her desk.
Currently, the bill sits on House Speaker Teri Norelli’s desk, who is expected to sign and send it over to Senate President Peter Bragdon later this week. Following those two signatures, the bill will be forwarded to Hannan’s desk. Once passed, New Hampshire will be the 19th state to legalize the cultivation and possession of medicinal marijuana. Although the Governor will only be given five business days to sign the bill, both the speaker and president have no distinct deadline in which to get their signatures in, though they are prohibited against indefinitely holding on to the bill.
Though Hassan has stated that she will sign the bill when it makes its way to her desk, getting the medical marijuana program up and running may take upwards of two years. Hassan’s legal counsel had met with State Senator Nancy Stiles to make some revisions to the proposed house bill. During an editorial board interview, Hassan made abundantly clear that the state could not safely and efficiently enforce allowing patients and caregivers to grow cannabis on their own. Rather, medical marijuana would only be available for purchase by patients with prescriptions via state-licensed alternative care centers. Under the bill, the licensed dispensaries will be allowed a maximum of 80 cannabis plants, 160 seedlings and up to 80 ounces of marijuana plants, leaving each patient with up to two ounces of marijuana per visit
Previously, Hassan has voted for several bills regarding the legalization of medicinal marijuana available through home-grown use as well as state-regulated dispensaries.
Marc Gregory, Hassan Communications Director, defended the changes implemented to the bill by stating, “…allowing the use of medical marijuana by patients made by Senator Stiles and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, represent improvements and help address the governor’s concerns about ensuring appropriate regulation and controlled dispensing.”
These “improvements,” however, are not in everyone’s favor. Matthew Simon, New Hampshire’s spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, was disappointed that the home-grown option had been removed from the bill. He noted that the alternative care centers will be far more expensive and take a significantly longer amount of time to get set up. “They have waited long enough. They need access to effective treatment now,” said Simon. Several terminally ill patients have privately met with Hassan recently in hopes of making an appeal for the home-grown stipulation still remaining in the bill. “It’s shocking and disappointing that the answer was no,” Simon responded.
In true eye for an eye fashion, the proposed Senate changes removed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition for obtaining medical marijuana but felt justified by adding, “spinal cord injury or disease, traumatic brain injury,” to the bill.
Much like the requirements for eligibility in the state of New Jersey, New Hampshire patients must have an established bona fide relationship with their physicians, prior to obtaining medical marijuana prescriptions. This is to ensure a safeguard so that patients may avoid “doctor shopping.” Additionally; the patients must have tried other remedies and fall under extremely specific conditions before requesting a prescription.
Among the changes proposed to the House Bill, perhaps the most predominant revision made was the questionable decision of changing its use from medical marijuana to therapeutic cannabis. When passed, this alteration will strongly marginalize the benefits of the plant as a medication. Although Hassan has stated that she has nothing but good intentions going into this legislation, it seems the passing of this bill may appear as a double edged sword.