In a huge victory for patients, the New Hampshire House overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana bill today by a record 286-64 margin. Similar bills in 2009, 2011, and 2012 also received more than two-thirds support from the House, but today’s vote of more than 81% in favor of HB 573 shows that the House is moving closer to achieving consensus on the issue!
Next, the bill will head to the Senate, which also passed similar bills in 2009 and 2012, but the Senate has always been more difficult to persuade on this issue than the House. Advocates will need to work even harder in the Senate to make sure HB 573 passes this year and creates the best law possible for patients.
Encouragingly, Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed support for making medical marijuana legal in the Granite State. That means if the bill passes in the Senate, New Hampshire stands a good chance of becoming the 19th medical marijuana state!
A bill to allow New Hampshire residents to use medical marijuana in the treatment of their debilitating medical conditions moved one step closer to becoming law Thursday when it was approved 14-1 by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. It will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.
House Bill 573, sponsored by State Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), would allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patients would be able to grow up to three mature marijuana plants in their homes or obtain marijuana through one of five non-profit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers. Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed support for passing medical marijuana legislation. A similar medical marijuana bill that passed with bipartisan support last session was vetoed by then-governor John Lynch.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Patrick Culbert (R-Pelham) made an emotional plea to his colleagues, sharing his experience caring for his wife, Judy, as she slowly died of cancer. He recounted how she found relief from her “agonizing” symptoms the sole time she tried using medical marijuana, but did not use it again because she feared being arrested.
“People like Judy shouldn’t have to die like that,” Rep. Culbert said. “She should have died with dignity and she didn’t.”
This overwhelming showing of legislative support provides great relief to many seriously ill patients and their families, who have been waiting years for medical marijuana to become legal in New Hampshire. Patients should not have to live in fear of arrest in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state.
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.
New Hampshire lawmakers met Thursday to discuss medical marijuana legislation. The House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs heard four hours of testimony from supporters of H.B. 573, a bill that would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to obtain and use medical marijuana upon receiving recommendations from their doctors. The bill permits up to five centers to dispense marijuana to patients, and it states that patients would be allowed to grow small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
A subcommittee will now examine the proposal, and on March 5, the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs will meet for a vote. A similar bill passed with bipartisan support in both legislative bodies in 2012, but it was vetoed by then Governor John Lynch. Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed support for medical marijuana legislation.
To read more about the proceedings, check out WMUR-TV’s coverage on the topic.