State Regulators Urged to Disregard Attorney General’s Opinion and Protect New Hampshire Patients in 2014
The attorney general’s office has advised the Department of Health and Human Services to delay issuing ID cards until alternative treatment centers are open, which would leave patients vulnerable to arrest for much longer than legislators intended
CONCORD — At a public meeting of the Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advisory Council on Friday, advocates urged the Department of Health and Human Services to disregard a controversial advisory opinion from the attorney general’s office that would create a significant delay for patients who are desperately waiting for legal protections. In a memo dated February13, Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Brown opined that the Department should delay issuing any patient ID cards until the alternative treatment center (ATC) regulations are finalized and the facilities are open.
HB 573, the bill that created New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law, was signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan on July 23, 2013. The Department is not required to finalize its rules for authorizing alternative treatment centers until January 2015. As a result, patients do not expect to have legal access to medical marijuana until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. Those who have been approved for the program and issued ID cards, however, would be protected from arrest in the interim.
Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield), a co-sponsor of HB 573, strongly objected to the advisory opinion. “The idea of forcing patients to wait until 2015 or later for legal protection is absurd and not at all what legislators intended when they approved HB 573,” he said. “These patients have already been waiting far too long for relief, and there's no good reason for any further delay.”
Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, presented the council with a letter asking them to respect the intent of the legislature and to support protecting seriously ill patients from arrest as soon as possible. The full letter can be found at the end of this release.
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The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.