Bill Had Been Altered by Lawmakers to Address Governor's Specific Concerns
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill to protect seriously ill patients from arrest for using doctor-recommended medical marijuana today, and patients are urging the legislature to override the veto.
The bill, which had been tailored to address eight specific concerns expressed by Lynch last month, passed in the House in June, 232-108, and in the Senate, 14-10 – two votes shy of what would be required to override the governor's veto.
"I'm disappointed that Governor Lynch did not meet with patients like me before deciding medical marijuana users should continue to risk arrest and jail to relieve their suffering," said Fremont resident Dennis Acton, a Republican cancer survivor who used medical marijuana to relieve nausea caused by radiation therapy in 1999. Acton appeared in a commercial earlier this month asking the governor to allow the bill to become law, available here: www.mpp.org/NHads. "I'm urging my fellow Republicans in the legislature to have the courage to stand up and override this veto."
Matt Simon, executive director for NH Common Sense Marijuana Policy, vowed not to give up on New Hampshire patients.
"Unlike Governor Lynch, the legislature has studied medical marijuana policy, listened to the stories of patients and the experience of physicians," Simon said. "They understand we have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and I'm confident they will once again stand up for them and override this veto."
A key change to the New Hampshire's bill, as requested by the governor, involves removing a provision allowing patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana plants, as patients are permitted to do in all 13 states that currently protect medical marijuana patients from arrest. Instead, the amended bill allows for the creation of up to three nonprofit "compassion centers," which could legally cultivate medical marijuana and dispense it to qualified patients.
"The bill the governor vetoed is probably the most tightly written and controlled medical marijuana bill in history," Simon said. "There is absolutely no doubt that it will provide patients the legal protection they need while ensuring we continue to maintain safe, drug-free communities. The time to pass this law is now."