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Entries in MPP (35)

Wednesday
Jul232014

MPP - NH Med. Marijuana Patients to Deliver Message to Hassan 

One Year After New Hampshire Adopted Medical Marijuana Law, Patients Still Risking Arrest and Criminal Prosecution

                                                                      

On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the State House

 

* Photo opportunity: The group will deliver a list of grievances and requests to the governor’s office *

                                                

CONCORD — One year after New Hampshire adopted a law intended to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana, patients are still facing criminal penalties for marijuana possession.  

 

On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro) will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the New Hampshire State House to discuss a list of grievances and requests to the governor. Patients will then deliver the list to Gov. Hassan’s office. The list of grievances and requests is pasted below and available online at http://mpp.org/NHgrievances.

 

“Patients have nothing to celebrate on the first anniversary of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Implementation of the program has been beset by needless delays, and people with debilitating conditions still face criminal penalties for possessing any amount of marijuana. This situation is unacceptable.


“We’re fed up with state officials’ stonewalling,” Simon said. “It’s time to start listening to the seriously ill people the medical marijuana law was intended to help.”

 

WHAT: Demonstration and rally to raise awareness about delays facing New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” program

 

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. ET, Wednesday, July 23

 

WHERE: In front of the New Hampshire State House, 107 N. Main St., Concord

 

WHO: Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright

Matt Simon, MPP New England political director

New Hampshire patients and advocates

#########

Patients’ Ten Grievances and Requests — July 23, 2014

 

#10[1] — No legal protection — Patients will have no protection from arrest until ID cards are issued, and the Attorney General’s office has advised the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) not to issue ID cards until the first dispensary opens. Governor Hassan, since you insisted on patients not having any legal protection until ID cards are issued, please urge DHHS to ignore the AG’s deeply flawed legal opinion and move forward with issuance of ID cards, as legislators intended.

 

#9 — No urgency on dispensaries — One year after the signing of HB 573, DHHS still has not managed to produce a first draft of the rules that will govern dispensaries. Governor Hassan, please tell these administrators to get serious and begin implementing this law more swiftly.

 

#8 — Removal of PTSD — Many patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report significant benefits from using cannabis. These patients include military veterans and victims of violent crime, and such patients can now qualify under the laws of 10 states, but not in New Hampshire. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to allowing PTSD as a qualifying condition.

 

#7 — No case-by-case approval — Unlike other state laws, New Hampshire’s law requires both a listed symptom and a listed condition to qualify. The Attorney General’s office has advised DHHS to ignore the law’s “case-by-case approval” language that would allow providers to certify patients with rare conditions or unique circumstances. As a result, rules have been adopted that will exclude patients with compelling needs, including those suffering from epilepsy. Governor Hassan, if you are re-elected, please support efforts to improve this law and allow patients with compelling circumstances to qualify.

 

#6 — Unreasonable requirements for providers — DHHS has adopted rules that exceed its statutory authority by requiring providers to justify their certifications by handing over medical records. Governor Hassan, please begin to recognize that cannabis is less harmful than prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, and that it is insane to discourage providers from recommending a less harmful alternative.

 

#5 — Unreasonable requirements for patients — Under New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law, it is a crime to possess cannabis in “Drug Free Zones.” This means a patient living within such a zone — or even driving through such a zone — would not be legally allowed to possess or use cannabis, even in the privacy of his or her own home or vehicle, and even if the cannabis is not smoked. It also means any patient or caregiver transporting cannabis within two or threeblocks of a school would be inadvertently committing a crime. The law also includes an absurd requirement that patients must have written permission before they can consume cannabis on another person’s property. Governor Hassan, please support removing these unique and burdensome restrictions so patients can obtain cannabis from dispensaries and transport it to their homes without risking an unreasonable arrest.

 

#4 — Opposition to reducing penalties — New Hampshire is the only state in New England where simple possession of marijuana remains a crime punishable by possible jail time. Reducing penalties would reduce patients’ and their family members’ exposure to the criminal justice system if they possess cannabis for therapeutic purposes, including while they wait for ID cards to become available. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to reducing marijuana penalties to a violation.

 

#3 — Police Chief on Advisory Council — The first person appointed to serve as “a member of the public” on the Advisory Council was Tuftonboro Chief of Police Andrew Shagoury. Chief Shagoury was one of the leading opponents of allowing patients access to cannabis, and his opposition to the interests of patients continues. The legislature has since voted to give the police chiefs’ association its own spot on the council, but patients are afraid that yet another opponent will be appointed to represent the public. Governor, please acknowledge the overwhelming public support for this program and appoint a public representative who will not advocate against the interestsof patients.

 

#2 — No patient representative on Advisory Council — The first patient appointed to the Advisory Council has not attended a single meeting. This is unacceptable. Governor Hassan, please appoint a qualifying patient who supports the implementation of this program and one who is willing to attend meetings and represent the interests of patients.

 

#1 — Home cultivation by patients remains a felony — Patients know that if they lived in any neighboring state, they could legally grow their own plants. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to allowing limited home cultivation by patients and caregivers.

 


[1] These are not in any particular order but are numbered for ease of reference.

Thursday
May292014

MPP - NH Med. Marijuana Rules Hearing Thursday 

 

Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates to Comment on Proposed Patient Registry Rules at Public Hearing Thursday                                                                    

Advocates will urge regulators to more swiftly implement program that will provide seriously ill patients with legal access to medical marijuana; hearing will take place at the Department of Health and Human Services Brown Building Auditorium at 9:30 a.m. ET                                                              

CONCORD — The Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday on its proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the state’s medical marijuana program. Patients and advocates will comment on the draft rules (available here) and the impact of a memo from the attorney general’s office (available here) that has delayed implementation of the program. 

The Marijuana Policy Project is urging regulators to begin issuing ID cards to patients as quickly as possible. 

“It is critical that the state begin issuing ID cards to patients as soon as the rules for the patient registry have been finalized,” said Matt Simon, a Goffstown-based New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There is no reason to delay the program, and many patients can’t afford to wait any longer for relief. Our state should not continue to criminalize seriously ill people who are using medical marijuana under their doctors’ supervision.”

 

WHAT: Public hearing on proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the Therapeutic Use of Cannabis program

 

WHEN: Thursday, May 29, 9:30 a.m. ET

 

WHERE: Department of Health and Human Services, Brown Building Auditorium, 129 Pleasant Street, Concord

 

WHO: Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project

 

# # #

 

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.

Thursday
May082014

MPP - NH Report Shows Collateral Consequences of Marijuana Convictions 

Advocates call on members of the House of Representatives to add House-approved decriminalization measure to one or more Senate bills; HB 1625 would have eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

 

CONCORD — The Marijuana Policy Project released a report Tuesday detailing the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana conviction in New Hampshire. The organization also urged members of the State House of Representatives to revive a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

 

The report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in New Hampshire,” was released in an email to legislators, and copies were presented to House leaders, Senate leaders, and Gov. Hassan’s office. A PDF of the report is available at mpp.org/NHMarkedForLife.

 

“A misdemeanor conviction can absolutely follow a person for the rest of his or her life,” said Mark Sisti, a Concord-based criminal defense attorney. “All five other New England states have eliminated criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession and replaced them with a civil fine. New Hampshire should do the same.”

 

Advocates are calling on members of the House to attach the language of a widely supported marijuana decriminalization bill to one or more bills that have been approved by the Senate. The House passed HB 1625 with more than a two-thirds majority (215-92), but the Senate refused to accept the bill from the House. The measure, introduced by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would have eliminated criminal penalties and the possibility of receiving a criminal record for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. It would have also reduced maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses, including reclassifying cultivation of up to six marijuana plants as a misdemeanor instead of felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

 

“The Senate wasn’t willing to listen this year, but House rules allow representatives to continue pushing for this sensible reform in 2014,” Simon said. “We encourage them to do so. It's not only common sense, it's what the voters want. Granite Staters are tired of seeing their tax dollars and the state's limited law enforcement resources wasted on arresting and prosecuting marijuana users.”

 

Three out of five New Hampshire adults (61%) support HB 1625, according to an annual WMUR Granite State poll released in April by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

 

Thursday
Apr102014

MPP - UNH Poll: Support Up for Marijuana Legalization in NH 

New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature 

UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine

CONCORD — The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.

The survey found 55% percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53% in 2013 — and 67% approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.

"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."

The poll also found that three out of five New Hampshire adults (61%) support House Bill 1625, a measure approved by the State House of Representatives and now being considered by the Senate that would reduce the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time. 

"Using taxpayer dollars to criminalize people for marijuana possession is not a popular idea in New Hampshire," Simon said. "How can anyone defend a law that subjects people to potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for using a less harmful substance than alcohol? It’s irrational, it's counterproductive, and it's time for it to change."

The poll of 510 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted March 24-April 1 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%. The entire poll is available at http://cola.unh.edu/survey-center/most-granite-staters-support-changes-states-marijuana-laws-4914.

# # #

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.

Tuesday
Apr082014

MPP - NH Medical Marijuana Hearing and News Conference

New Hampshire Senate Committee to Hold Hearing Tuesday on Bill That Would Provide Legal Access to Medical Marijuana                                                                    

HB 1622 sponsor Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join medical marijuana patients and advocates for a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building

 

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution.

Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), who is sponsoring HB 1622, will join medical marijuana patients and advocates at a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The committee hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET in Room 103.

"My weight is down to around 60 pounds, and I have no appetite without cannabis," said Clayton Holton, a Dover-based medical marijuana advocate suffering from muscular dystrophy, who will not be attending the hearing because he is no longer able to travel. "Where is the compassion for patients like me who are literally wasting away because of these delays?"

HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and twelve immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

"If this bill passes, New Hampshire will continue to have one of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the nation," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "At least it will help those desperately ill patients who cannot wait any longer for legal access to medical marijuana."

WHAT: News conference and State Senate Committee hearing regarding HB 1622, which would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or caregivers to cultivate limited amounts of medical marijuana while the state develops a system of regulated alternative treatment centers

WHEN: Tuesday, April 8 — news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET; Senate committee hearing at 11 a.m. ET

WHERE: News conference in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building, 33 N. State St., Concord; Senate committee hearing in Room 103

WHO: Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), sponsor of HB 1622

Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project

Frank Paine, Center Sandwich medical marijuana patient

Christine Lopez, Manchester medical marijuana patient

# # #

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.