On July 23, 2013, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law the use of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. This makes New Hampshire the 19th state to lift restrictions of the use of medical marijuana, but there are some conditions. The House approved bill allows for qualified patients to cultivate up to three plants in their home or obtain it from one of five non-profit, state regulated alternative treatment centers.
Last April, Gov. Hassan insisted on several changes to HB-573 while being considered by the State Senate, including the removal of the cultivation rights, having the permission and written consent of property owners before tenants can legally have marijuana, and removing Post-Traumatic-Stress-Syndrome from the list of ailments that would allow for the legal right to obtain and possess marijuana. It will still be at least two-years before four of the state-regulated alternative treatment centers can dispense the drug.
Despite Gov. Hassan’s best attempt to make it more difficult to obtain marijuana legally than illegally, this is considered a victory for medical marijuana. New Hampshire is the last of the New England states to allow marijuana for medical use. In state-wide polls conducted last February and April by University of New Hampshire Survey Centers, a whopping 79% of those polled voted in favor for medicinal marijuana use.
The victory wouldn’t have been as possible if it weren’t for the determination of the patients, activists and those legislators sympathetic to the cause, which include Rep. Donna Schlachman, Rep. Ted Wright and Senator John Reagan, as well as other co-sponsors of HB-573. It may not be the sweeping victory that common sense would deem sensible, but it’s a victory nonetheless.
Hopefully, in time, the “red” states will follow suit, which make up the middle of the country. The fact that patients in Middle America, who would greatly benefit from the use of marijuana, have to pack-up and head either east or west to benefit from the well-documented medicinal benefits of this plant, is, in a word, unfortunate. Stern legislation keeps medical marijuana from being affordable to those who are too ill to work, and if you live in a state that touches the Mississippi River, then that move to either coast is not a cheap one. But for the time being, it just may be worth the financial stretch.