N.H. House overwhelmingly approves medical marijuana bill, but Gov. Hassan demands major changes
A bill allowing seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use marijuana for medical purposes moved one step closer to becoming law March 20, 2013, when the House voted in favor by a record 286-64 margin. House Bill 573, sponsored by Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), was previously approved 14-1 by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. As amended by the committee, the bill would allow qualifying patients to cultivate up to three mature plants or obtain marijuana from one of five non-profit, state-regulated alternative treatment centers.
Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan surprised advocates by insisting on several major changes to the bill. She informed senators that, in order to earn her signature, they must remove the home cultivation provision, gut the affirmative defense provisions, and require written permission from property owners or tenants before patients may use marijuana on private property.
This is a major change of position for Gov. Hassan, who voted for a bill allowing home cultivation of up to six plants as Senate Majority Leader in 2009. The Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee had little choice but to make these changes, voting 5-0 to approve the amended bill April 30. The full Senate could vote as soon as May 22.
Please call Gov. Hassan’s office today and urge her to reconsider her objections!
Medical marijuana bills have gone to the New Hampshire governor’s desk in both 2009 and 2012, and both times they were vetoed and ultimately killed. Fortunately, polls show that support is stronger than ever. Statewide polls conducted in February and April by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center both found that a whopping 79% of voters support allowing medical marijuana. Results are available here and here.
Now that Massachusetts has become the 18th state to allow medical marijuana, New Hampshire is the only New England state that does not protect patients if their doctors recommend medical marijuana. It would be a tragedy for patients not to receive the protections they deserve in 2013. Please contact your senator today and urge him or her to support HB 573!
Also, don't forget to sign up for our New Hampshire alerts so we can keep you posted on new developments in the effort to finally give New Hampshire patients the protection they deserve.
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If you are supportive and are a medical professional, a seriously ill patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.
House passes bill reducing penalties, considers several other marijuana policy reform bills in 2013
HB 621, as amended, would have reduced the penalty for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $200. Similar bills passed the House in 2008, 2010, and 2012, but Gov. John Lynch threatened to veto any such legislation, and the bills never earned support in the Senate. HB 621 passed the House by a decisive 214-115 margin March 21. Sadly, the Senate Judiciary Committee once again voted the bill “inexpedient to legislate” in a 5-0 vote.
HB 492 would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and over, allowing individuals to cultivate up to six plants (three mature) for personal use and setting up a framework for taxing and regulating the production and sale of marijuana. This bill has been retained by the House for further study.
Finally, HB 337 would have entirely removed marijuana from the New Hampshire criminal code. Similar bills have been introduced in New Hampshire in the past, but none has received significant support from legislators. Surprisingly, this bill received 112 votes in the House, losing 239-112.
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