CONCORD, N.H. — The NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy today announced its support for HB 648, a bill that would protect seriously ill patients from arrest if their doctors recommend marijuana.The group also announced the launch of NHCompassion.org, a new Web site featuring New Hampshire patients, which will serve as a home base for the effort to pass medical marijuana legislation.
"HB 648 simply acknowledges the obvious fact that some seriously ill New Hampshire patients benefit from their medicinal use of marijuana," observed Matt Simon, the organization's executive director."There is no moral justification for continuing a policy that criminalizes patients for trying to relieve their suffering."
Simon said he's optimistic about the bill’s chances, and noted that New Hampshire voters support medical marijuana reform by a wider margin than they supported most successful candidates in the 2008 election.
Simon cited a poll conducted last April by Mason-Dixon Research, which found that of New Hampshire voters, 71 percent supported "changing the law in New Hampshire to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to use and grow medical marijuana for personal use if their doctors recommend it."Only 21 percent of voters said they opposed the reform, with 8 percent undecided. Details on the poll are available at nhcompassion.org.
A similar bill, HB 774, was narrowly rejected (186-177) by the House in 2007, but Simon said he believes support will be much stronger this year."In the past two years, the consensus for allowing medical marijuana has grown. Michigan and New Mexico enacted medical marijuana laws, and now 25 percent of Americans live in medical marijuana states. In addition, the prestigious American College of Physicians issued a paper supporting marijuana's medical value. And, the new U.S. president has pledged to end the federal raids on medical marijuana providers, which had been a concern for many legislators."
The bill's prime sponsor is Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), joined by co-sponsors Sen. John Gallus (R-Berlin), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), Rep. Tom Donovan (D-Claremont), Rep. James "Doc" Pilliod (R-Belmont), Rep. Trinka Russell (D-Stratham) and Rep. Don Petterson (D-Brentwood).An initial hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
If the effort to pass HB 648 succeeds, New Hampshire would become the 14th state since 1996 to pass legislation protecting medical marijuana patients, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.