By Kris Hermes | Published in Safe Access Now
Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 into law, making New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana.
The new law will allow qualified patients to use up to two ounces of marijuana in a 10-day period, but it also creates a registry identification card system, authorizes up to four non-profit distribution centers in the state, and establishes an affirmative defense for valid ID cardholders.
The bill also requires the formation of an advisory council on the therapeutic use of cannabis.
The list of qualifying medical conditions includes cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic pancreatitis, spinal cord injury or disease, traumatic brain injury, or:
“one or more injuries that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s provider; and a severely debilitating or terminal medical condition or its treatment that has produced at least one of the following: elevated intraocular pressure, cachexia, chemotherapy induced anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects, constant or severe nausea, moderate to severe vomiting, seizures, or severe, persistent muscle spasms.”
The Senate version of HB 573 did not include post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition, but the conference committee, which hammered out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, made sure PTSD was on the list.
Another provision cut by the Senate – under threat of veto by Governor Hassan – was the right of patients to cultivate medical marijuana for themselves under strict conditions, a right that exists in all but four medical marijuana states.
Despite compelling testimony from Rep. Ted Wright (Moultonborough-R) during a House hearing that he hoped to be able to grow plants at home for his wife who is battling cancer, the patient cultivation provision was not put back in by the conference committee. During his testimony, Rep. Wright said that medical bills would make it tough to afford the roughly $400 a month it would cost to purchase marijuana from a dispensary.
In addition to the cost issue, laws that only allow patients to obtain their medication from a licensed dispensary have forced patients to go without safe and legal access.
It took more than two years for New Jersey to license a single dispensary in the state, and patients in Connecticut and Delaware must still get their medicine from the illicit market.
New Hampshire was the only remaining New England state to pass a medical marijuana law and is expected to be followed soon by Illinois. In May, the Illinois legislature passed HB 1, a medical marijuana law that is currently awaiting Governor Quinn’s signature.