MPP - Medical Marijuana Access Bill Moves Forward

Bill Allowing Patients Legal Access to Medical Marijuana Passes New Hampshire House Committee

HB 1622 would allow qualifying patients to cultivate up to two mature plants until an alternative treatment center opens near their residence

CONCORD — A bill that would allow qualifying patients to cultivate a limited amount of medical marijuana in New Hampshire was approved this morning in a 13-3 vote by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. The bill will be considered by the full House sometime in March.

Sponsored by Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), HB 1622 was designed to provide safe, legal access for patients who can’t afford to continue waiting for the four alternative treatment centers that were authorized by New Hampshire’s “therapeutic use of cannabis” law. The bill would allow qualifying patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature plants and twelve seedlings. The cultivation location would have to be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, and patients would lose their ability to cultivate when an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

“Patients and caregivers in Vermont and Maine have been cultivating their own marijuana legally for years with little controversy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the bill. "The House has consistently supported patients who urgently need medical marijuana to treat their conditions, and in light of this excellent committee vote, we fully expect a strong House vote in favor of HB 1622.”

HB 573, the bill that created New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law, was signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan on July 23, 2013. However, a home cultivation provision included in the House-approved version was removed by the Senate following a veto threat. The Department of Health and Human Services is not required to finalize its rules for authorizing alternative treatment centers until January 2015. As a result, unless HB 1622 is enacted, patients do not expect to have legal access to their medicine under HB 573 until the summer of 2015 at the earliest.