New Hampshire became the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana on Tuesday, with a new law which allows those with chronic or terminal illnesses to have access to therapeutic pot.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the medical marijuana bill into law, quelling conservative concerns by explaining that "this legislation ensures that we approach this policy in the in the right way with measures to prevent abuse," reports The Huffington Post.
As medicinal marijuana slowly edges toward legalization in many states, what does New Hampshire's law offer its citizens?
Campaign Promise Fulfilled
By signing HB 573 into law on Tuesday, Gov. Hassan fulfilled her campaign promise by legalizing medical marijuana in New Hampshire to "provide relief to patients through ... compassionate and right policy," reports The Associated Press.
An analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project called the legislation "long overdue." But its passage is a great comfort to those who are suffering from terminal and chronic illnesses who now have "reliable access to medical marijuana," he said in a statement.
Still, others in the Granite State were not as pleased, especially veterans who were crestfallen that post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was removed from the list of qualifying medical conditions, reports Nashua, New Hampshire's The Telegraph. That was one of many strict compromises that allowed this bill to finally pass.
Medical Marijuana Access
Although PTSD sufferers will not have access to medical marijuana in New Hampshire, the new law covers "qualifying medical conditions" such as:
- Hepatitis C,
- ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease),
- Muscular dystrophy,
- Crohn's disease,
- Alzheimer's disease,
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Chronic pancreatitis, and
- Spinal cord/brain injury.
The law allows qualified each qualifying patient up to two ounces of "usable cannabis" (no seeds, stalks, and roots), which is the same quantity that similar medical cannabis laws in Colorado, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., provide.
New Hampshire, similar to D.C., does not allow eligible patients to cultivate any marijuana plants in their homes. They must obtain the drug from a licensed medical marijuana provider or cultivation center.
When Will N.H. See Dispensaries?
While the bill was signed into law Tuesday, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and New Hampshire's special patient identifying cards may take up to two years to be implemented, reports the AP. So it may be a while before suffering patients get real access to medical marijuana.
New Hampshire may also see local ordinances that ban cannabis dispensaries, as has happened in California and elsewhere. Qualifying patients in those localities may have to travel to a participating municipality in order to receive their legal medicinal pot.
- Gov. Hassan signs medical marijuana law (New Hampshire Union Leader)
- OK to Fire Medical Pot Patients: Colo. Court (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are Illegal: Mich. Supreme Court (FindLaw's Courtside)
- Cal. Supr. Court Upholds Riverside Medical Marijuana Zoning Ban (FindLaw's California Case Law Blog)