With bill signing, New Hampshire becomes 19th state to allow medical marijuana

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July 30, 2013

New Hampshire

By Phil Sletten

CONCORD, New Hampshire: Governor Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill allowing four tightly-regulated dispensaries for medical marijuana in New Hampshire, bringing a legislative victory to those suffering chronic illness and pro-marijuana activists who have long fell short in the Live Free or Die state. The bill creates an advisory panel to work through issues surrounding the implementation of the law, and patients may have to wait an additional 18 months before dispensaries are operating.[1]

Hassan signed the bill after the New Hampshire General Court made modifications to win her signature. Specifically, Hassan had qualms with the home grow provisions in the original version of the legislation. Those provisions would have allowed individuals seeking medical marijuana treatment to grow their own medicine until the dispensaries were in place. However, Hassan was concerned that this home-growing would not be well-regulated, and the legislature removed the language from the bill at her request.[2]

Legislation legalizing medicinal marijuana passed the state legislature under Democratic control in 2009 and Republican control in 2012, but both times the bills were vetoed by then-Governor John Lynch (D).[2] Hassan, a former state senator, supported therapeutic marijuana twice while she was in the legislature and campaigned to make medicinal marijuana legal in the 2012 campaign, but wanted to make sure the bill was careful and methodical.[3] Despite the lengths made to reach these assurances and the legislation having some of the strictest framework in the country, many implementation challenges remain.[4]

The lack of access to medical marijuana in the short-term has irked some advocates looking to provide immediate relief to suffering patients.[3] Nearby states that allow medicinal marijuana generally do not allow out-of-state residents to retrieve marijuana from their territory and return to their home state with the medicine.[5]

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