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March 10, 2013

Medical marijuana closer to approval in N.H.

The “Live Free or Die” state soon could become the last in New England to approve letting ailing people use marijuana to relieve their suffering.

A New Hampshire House panel last week overwhelmingly, on a 14-1 vote, recommended passage for House Bill 573. The speaker’s office said the full House will consider the bill later this month.

“This bill is not going to turn this state into a bunch of pot heads,” co-sponsor Rep. Debra DeSimone, R-Atkinson said Friday.

The bill will give relief to those ailing people that marijuana will help, she said.

“It behooves us as a society to do that,” DeSimone said. “My question is, ‘Why should people suffer when they don’t have to?’’’

The bill came out of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on Thursday with the support of Rep. Paddy Culbert, R-Pelham, who related for the panel how his wife, Judy, resorted to marijuana before she died.

“For the first time in six months, she was out of pain, for four days,” Culbert recalled in an interview Friday.

But she was afraid to continue using marijuana because it was illegal, he said.

“She wouldn’t take it again,” he said.

Culbert, in comments before the committee, said people like his late wife shouldn’t have to suffer when marijuana can help them.

His message to the Legislature: “Pass it.”

Rep. Charles McMahon, R-Windham, another member of the committee, also supports passage.

“The regulatory oversight controlling access for this product, medically, I believe has met the test,” McMahon said.

A conservative House last session narrowly approved a medical marijuana bill. But the Senate rejected it as then-Gov. John Lynch threatened a veto.

The Legislature became more centrist after the election in November and new Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, has indicated she can support allowing people to use marijuana for medical reasons.

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