N.H. Senate committee unanimously votes to protect patients

Mar 22, 2012

committee, Medical Marijuana, MPP, New Hampshire, Republicans, SB 409, vote

In a huge victory for patients and their families, this afternoon the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 5-0 to approve New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill, SB 409. The full Senate will vote on the bill next week.

The four Republican members of the committee — including Senate Majority Leader and former U.S. Congressman Jeb Bradley — and the one Democrat all voted in favor of the bill, having considered over two and a half hours of testimony at a March 8 public hearing.

SB 409, sponsored by Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), would allow patients with serious illnesses such as MS, cancer, AIDS, PTSD, and intractable pain to register with the Department of Health and Human Services and receive ID cards protecting them from arrest if marijuana is recommended by their doctors. Qualifying patients would be permitted to cultivate up to six mature plants in an enclosed, locked facility.

MPP, patients, and our allies have been lobbying for medical marijuana in the state for several years. In 2009, the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed medical marijuana legislation, but Gov. John Lynch (D) vetoed the bill, even after changes were made to specifically address his concerns. The House voted to override Lynch’s vote, but the Senate veto override vote came two votes shy.

In November 2010, the leadership in both chambers shifted after Republicans won 3:1 majorities in the state House of Representatives and Senate. Last year, the New Hampshire House of Representatives showed that compassion is not a partisan issue, voting 221-96 for medical marijuana legislation. Last year’s bill passed the same Senate committee by a narrower, 3-2, margin but did not receive a Senate floor vote.

If you live in New Hampshire, please ask your senator to vote in favor of SB 409 so that patients may finally have the relief they deserve.