At long last, the first New Hampshire dispensary has opened! Sanctuary ATC opened its doors in Plymouth on May 1 and began serving patients, including many who told The Manchester Union Leader they were seeking a less harmful and more effective alternative to opioids.
Temescal Wellness, which will operate dispensaries in Dover and Lebanon, has opened as well. A fourth approved dispensary, slated for Merrimack, has not yet announced when it will be opening.
We would like to thank the countless Granite Staters who advocated for safe, legal access to cannabis over the years and helped make this victory possible. We also think it’s important that we take a moment to remember the patients who worked to pass this law but did not live long enough to see the first dispensary open. This list includes Clayton Holton, Scott Turner, Barbara Filleul, Hardy Macia, and Linda Horan.
There were no celebrations in 2013 when this law was passed because we knew it would be a long time before any patients could benefit and we knew some patients could not afford to wait for safe, legal access to cannabis. Today, now that a dispensary is open and now that over 600 patients have been issued ID cards protecting them from arrest, we believe it is finally time to declare victory! We will, of course, continue pushing for further improvements to the law.
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.