The delays in implementing New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program have been very frustrating for patients. Fortunately, the state finally appears to be making progress toward the adoption of alternative treatment center (dispensary) rules. The Concord Monitor reported some details of the rule-making process this morning.
You can read the first draft of the proposed rules here. The Department of Health and Human Services will accept comments as part of an “advance comment period,” which ends tomorrow. After that, the department will enter its formal rule-making phase, which will include a public hearing and additional opportunities for public comment. The department released a timeline indicating that it hopes to secure final approval of the dispensary rules by November 20.
You can read the comments being submitted by MPP here. While we have identified a number of issues with the rules, we think the most troubling provisions are the onerous application fee of $80,000 and the annual renewal fee of $80,000. We understand that the law requires the Department to set fees that cover the costs of administering the program, but it is unclear whether New Hampshire will have any qualified applicants who wish to enter this heavily restricted dispensary market with fees this high.
For information on how to submit comments, please visit the department’s website for the “therapeutic use of cannabis” program.
We are pleased that the Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to approve HB 573 and send it forward to the Senate floor. However, we were sad to watch as the bill was compromised by several amendments that were insisted upon by Gov. Hassan.
The worst was the removal of the home cultivation provision. If no patient or caregiver in the state is allowed to cultivate, patients will likely have to wait two or more years for safe, legal access through alternative treatment centers. Another offensive amendment requires patients to secure written permission before using marijuana on private property.
Senators felt they had little choice but to accept these mandates, because to do otherwise would be to risk having the bill vetoed. MPP held a press conference following the Senate vote, and our concerns were reported by media outlets including NHPR, The Union-Leader, The Concord Monitor, and The Nashua Telegraph.
Please share this news and add your voice to the voices of patients like Clayton Holton, who published this excellent letter in The Portsmouth Herald, and Hardy Macia, a cancer patient who recorded a sad, compelling video message for Gov. Hassan from his hospital bed.
This past Sunday, New Hampshire’s Sentinel Source positively highlighted the state’s proposed medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 573. The editorial board points out that the “well-crafted,” 30-page bill removes the ambiguities with which reform opponents often take issue. The proposal stipulates that prior to receiving a medical marijuana recommendation, qualifying patients must first try other forms of relief, and it sets strict rules about the financial relationships between recommending doctors and treatment centers, the total of which is capped at five. From the Sentinel:
In recent years, 18 states have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, principally for palliative care for dreadfully painful conditions, and nine more are now considering such a move. New Hampshire is in this latter group with House Bill 573, a piece of legislation that is carefully drawn and deserving of support.
This support was echoed on Monday by the Nashua Telegraph, another prominent New Hampshire newspaper:
Arguments against medical marijuana are reasonable and legitimate, but they miss the point that the legislation is about easing the suffering of thousands of New Hampshire residents for which the alternatives aren’t viable. When the risks are weighed against the benefits, legalizing medical marijuana is in the best interests of New Hampshire and its citizens.
[caption id="attachment_5929" align="alignleft" width="270"] Clayton Holton, 27, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, testified at a New Hampshire medical marijuana hearing last week. (Photo - Nashua Telegraph)[/caption]
MPP would like to thank these publications for supporting this compassionate legislation. It is time for New Hampshire to join the rest of New England and allow patients like Clayton Holton to use the medicine that works best for them. Many of them cannot afford to wait. UPDATE: The Concord Monitor has joined the newspapers above in support for medical marijuana in New Hampshire.