EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 21, 2013

Medical marijuana bill passed in House

CONCORD — New Hampshire advocates of medical marijuana won overwhelming support yesterday in the House for a bill that would sanction five marijuana dispensaries and allow patients or caregivers to grow up to three plants for medical use.

The bipartisan vote of 286-64 marked the fourth time in six years such a medical marijuana bill has won House approval. Two previous measures were vetoed by then-Gov. John Lynch; a third was killed in the Senate.

“The intent of this legislation is to assist a very small minority of New Hampshire citizens who are suffering terribly from cancer, other terminal illnesses and debilitating diseases,” Rep. Steve Schmidt, R-Wolfeboro, said.

The vote spread gives the bill a veto-proof majority in the House, although Gov. Maggie Hassan has said, and repeated yesterday, that she supports a tightly regulated medical marijuana program. Hassan said her concern is over the state’s ability to regulate a home-grown option.

Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley said earlier in the week he believes a medical marijuana bill has enough support in the Senate, but the House version would likely be sent back with significant changes. The most recent measure to pass the Senate allowed for patients to grow the plant at home and did not provide for any dispensaries.

Schmidt, a member of the committee that drafted the bill, said the legislation would affect only about 600 to 800 residents. Under the measure, patients would have to show they have a qualifying illness and corresponding symptoms as well as a relationship of at least three months with a provider. Some qualifying illnesses include: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV virus or AIDS, Hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD.

In addition, patients would have to have tried and not responded to other treatments. No one with a felony or drug conviction could be a caregiver or dispensary employee.

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