Medical Marijuana and the 2012 NH Election

Gov. John Lynch is not seeking a fifth term in the corner office, which is great news for patients and advocates who have been working for years to pass an effective medical marijuana law in New Hampshire. Gov. Lynch’s vetoes crushed the hopes of patients in 2009 and 2012, so the race to replace him will be worth watching very closely.

To learn the positions of candidates for governor and Senate, MPP sent surveys asking candidates to respond “YES,” “NO,” or “Undecided/need more information” to the following statement:

Patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other serious medical conditions whose doctors recommend marijuana should be allowed to obtain and use marijuana without fear of criminal sanction under New Hampshire law.

As a service to voters, we have used a mixture of candidate surveys, votes on previous legislation, and public comments to compile useful information on general election candidates.


Candidates for governor

  • Republican Party Candidate Ovide Lamontagne has made positive comments on the issue of allowing medical marijuana, but it is not clear if he would have signed or vetoed SB 409.

    In an August 12 appearance on NHPR’s “The Exchange,”
    Lamontagne surprised host Laura Knoy with this answer: “On medical marijuana my view is this: if there is way that this can be dispensed in a controlled way, and a physician believes that medical marijuana can help a patient, then why do we stand in the way of that?” However, Lamontagne also said: “I don’t really like the idea of somebody growing it in their backyard.” SB 409, the 2012 bill, allowed limited cultivation by patients and caregivers.
  • Democratic Party Candidate Maggie Hassan voted “YES” on medical marijuana legislation in 2009. She responded “YES” to MPP’s survey and added the following comment: “While serving in the New Hampshire State Senate, I voted to support a bill that would have allowed patients suffering from cancer or certain other debilitating diseases to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if recommended by a treating physician. As governor, I would evaluate any bill permitting the use of medical marijuana if recommended by a doctor closely to ensure that the method of distribution is safe and tightly regulated and would consult with relevant stakeholders, including the law enforcement and medical communities.”
  • Libertarian Party Candidate John Babiarz responded “YES” to MPP’s survey and provided the following comment: “Most definitely yes, I would support medical marijuana. I would hope any bill sent to me as governor would be the least restrictive bill possible. I am an emergency medical technician (EMT-I), and I would hope that all people would have compassion for those in pain as I have seen in some of my neighbors and friends. I would go further to state that I have seen people's rights violated for no good reason by the war on drugs. Prohibition corrupts the courts and police, and it has ruined countless lives. It is time to stop this insanity and stop incarcerating peaceful people. It is time to end prohibition.”

The New Hampshire Senate

This year, a total of 16 out of 24 senators voted “YES” on SB 409, and if those 16 votes had all come on the same day, the Senate would have had enough support to override Gov. Lynch’s veto and pass an effective medical marijuana bill into law.

However, the goal of earning support from at least 16 senators — or even 13 (a simple majority) — will not be easy to achieve in 2013. Eight out of 24 New Hampshire senators are retiring, and redistricting has thrown several Senate seats into chaos, with a ninth senator resigning his seat this summer to seek election from a different district.

Unfortunately, of the eight retiring senators, all but one voted in favor of SB 409, so the outcome of Senate races will have a significant impact on medical marijuana’s chances in 2013. Here is a complete guide to all 24 Senate races.

Senate District 1 (Berlin, Littleton, Franconia, and other northern NH towns):

  • Debi Warner (R-Littleton) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

  • Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey and provided the following comment: “This proposal makes perfect sense to me, and I'll support it if elected to the state Senate.”

Senate District 2 (Center Harbor, Meredith, New Hampton, Sanbornton, Tilton, Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol, Campton, Dorchester, Ellsworth, Grafton, Groton, Haverhill, Hebron, Holderness, Orange, Orford, Piermont, Plymouth, Rumney, Warren, Wentworth, Danbury, Hill, and Wilmot):        

Senate District 3 (Carroll County plus Waterville Valley, Middleton, and Milton):

  • Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012 and spoke in favor on the Senate floor.

  • Jeffery Ballard (D-Brookfield) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey and provided the following comment: “I'm an RN and army combat medic who served in Afghanistan. I support medical marijuana. My father suffered through chemo and died of cancer last year. I know medical marijuana would have made a difference.”

Senate District 4 (Dover, Barrington, Rollinsford, and Somersworth):

  • Phyllis Woods (R-Dover) responded “UNDECIDED” to MPP’s survey and provided the following comment: “Of course we want to be compassionate to patients, but I remain concerned about abuse and worried about how the use of marijuana could lead to some impairment while operating a vehicle. I remain open but would want to carefully study any proposal.”

  • Rep. David Watters (D-Dover) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012.

Senate District 5 (Canaan, Enfield, Hanover, Lebanon, Lyme, Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, and Plainfield):

Senate District 6 (Alton, Barnstead, Gilmanton, Farmington, New Durham, and Rochester):

  • Rep. Sam Cataldo (R-Farmington) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012 and responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Richard Leonard (D-New Durham) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 7 (Laconia, Gilford, Belmont, Franklin, Northfield, Canterbury, Andover, Boscawen, Salisbury, and Webster):

  • Josh Youssef (R-Laconia) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.
  • Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) did not respond to MPP’s survey. As a candidate in 2010, Hosmer told voters he would not commit to supporting medical marijuana legislation.

Senate District 8 (Marlow, Stoddard, Antrim, Bennington, Deering, Francestown, Hillsborough, Weare, Windsor, Bradford, Newbury, New London, Sutton, Acworth, Croydon, Goshen, Grantham, Langdon, Lempster, Newport, Springfield, Sunapee, Unity, and Washington):

  • Senator Bob Odell (R-Lempster) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.
  • Christopher Wallenstein (D-Bennington) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 9 (Bedford, Peterborough, New Boston, Mont Vernon, Hancock, Sharon, Jaffrey, Dublin, Troy, Temple, Greenfield, Fitzwilliam, and Richmond):

Senate District 10 (Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Marlborough, Nelson, Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland, and Winchester):

  • Richard Foote (R-Swanzey) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 11 (Amherst, Merrimack, Milford, and Wilton):

  • Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Frederick Dyke (D-Amherst) has not yet responded to MPP’s survey (late qualifier for the ballot, survey was mailed to him on 9/20).

Senate District 12 (Nashua Wards 1, 2, and 5, Brookline, Greenville, Hollis, Mason, New Ipswich, and Rindge):

Senate District 13 (Nashua Wards 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9):

  • Rep. Joseph Krasucki (R-Nashua) voted “NO” on SB 409 but reconsidered his position after learning more about the bill and responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Former Senator Bette Lasky (R-Nashua) voted “YES” on medical marijuana legislation in 2009.

Senate District 14 (Hudson, Auburn, and Londonderry):

  • Senator Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Katherine Messner (D-Hudson) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Richard Kahn (L-Hudson) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey and added the following comment: “I support the right of all citizens to choose what they put into their bodies regardless of the purpose. We have laws against robbery and violent crime, so if that is the concern, then pass a law that enhances penalties for crimes committed while under the influence, but prior restraint is unconstitutional. I oppose any laws that create prior restraint.”

Senate District 15 (Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton, and Warner):

  • Lydia Harman (R-Concord) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Senator Sylvia Larsen (D-Concord) voted “YES” on SB 409 twice in 2012, but changed her vote to “NO” for the critical final vote June 27 and spoke against the bill on the Senate floor.

Senate District 16 (Manchester Wards 1, 2, and 12, Bow, Dunbarton, Hooksett, and Candia):

  • Senator David Boutin (R-Hooksett) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Kathleen Kelley (D-Manchester) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

  • Richard Tomasso (L-Manchester) responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 17 (Allenstown, Chichester, Epsom, Loudon, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Deerfield, Northwood, Nottingham, Raymond, and Strafford):

  • Rep. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) voted “YES” on medical marijuana legislation in 2012 and responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Nancy Fraher (D-Chichester) responded "YES" to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 18 (Manchester Wards 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and Litchfield):

  • Rep. J. Gail Barry (R-Manchester) voted “NO” on SB 409 but reconsidered her position after learning more about the bill and responded “YES” to MPP’s survey.

  • Former Rep. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) did not respond to MPP’s survey.
  • Art Beaudry (I-Manchester) has not yet responded to MPP’s survey (late qualifier for the ballot, survey was mailed to him on 9/20).

Senate District 19 (Derry, Hampstead, and Windham):

  • Senator James Rausch (R-Derry) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • R. Christopher Reisdorf (D-Derry) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 20 (Manchester Wards 3, 4, 10, 11, and Goffstown):

  • Rep. Phil Greazzo (R-Manchester) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) voted “YES” on SB 409 twice in 2012, but changed his vote to “NO” for the critical final vote June 27. Additionally, D’Allesandro made the motion to “table” a medical marijuana bill in 2011, effectively killing it for the year.

Senate District 21 (Durham, Lee, Mabury, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, and Portsmouth):

  • Peter MacDonald (R-Lee) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

  • Former Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) voted “YES” on medical marijuana legislation in 2009 and was a co-sponsor of the bill.

Senate District 22 (Pelham, Atkinson, Plaistow, and Salem):

  • Senator Chuck Morse (R-Salem) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Victoria Czaia (D-Atkinson) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 23 (Exeter, Kingston, East Kingston, Epping, Fremont, Brentwood, Sandown, Chester, and Danville):

  • Senator Russell Prescott (R-Kingston) voted “NO” on SB 409 in 2012.
  • Carol Croteau (D-Kingston) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

Senate District 24 (Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, New Castle, North Hampton, Rye, and Stratham):

  • Senator Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton) voted “YES” on SB 409 in 2012.

  • Former Senator Beverly Hollingworth (R-Hampton) did not respond to MPP’s survey.

New Hampshire House of Representatives

We did not send surveys to the candidates seeking seats in New Hampshire’s 400-member House, which passed medical marijuana bills by more than two-thirds margins in 2009 and 2012. To see how your representatives voted on SB 409 in 2012, click here to see who your representatives are and here to see the April 25 roll call.

Additionally, in 2012 the House voted 162-161 in favor of HB 1526, a bill that would have reduced the penalty for possessing less than half an ounce of marijuana to a violation. The reduced penalty would have applied only for the first two offenses; third and subsequent offenses would have remained class A misdemeanors, punishable by a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The 162 “YEA” votes listed here supported the bill.

In another 2012 roll call vote, the House defeated HB 1705 by a 229-89 margin. The bill would have allowed the purchase and use of marijuana by adults, regulating the purchase and use of marijuana, and imposing taxes on wholesale and retail sale. The 89 “NAY” votes listed here supported the bill.

We may have more information we can share about the positions of House candidates. If you’d like to inquire about the positions and voting records of House candidates in your town, or if you have additional information about a candidate you'd like to share with us, send email to msimon@mpp.org.

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