CONCORD-(ENEWSPF)- New Hampshire state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill Wednesday that will allow state residents with serious illnesses obtain and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The bill will now be transmitted to Gov. Maggie Hassan, who announced last week that she will sign it into law.
“This legislation has been a long time coming and is a much-needed victory for those with serious illnesses who find significant relief in medical marijuana,” said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the bill.
“The vast majority of Americans believe people suffering from debilitating conditions should be able to use medical marijuana, and it is time for other states to follow suit,” Simon said. “People suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS in New York and other states are just as deserving of sensible and compassionate laws as those here in New Hampshire.”
HB 573, sponsored by State Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), will allow residents with certain debilitating illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to possess up to two ounces of medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patients will be able to obtain medical marijuana through one of four non-profit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.
The House overwhelmingly approved the bill (284-66) on March 20. The Senate approved it (18-6) on May 23, but amended the bill in a manner that would have made it unworkable. House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on the bill in a committee of conference on June 18, and the full House and Senate signed off on the final version today.
Gov. Hassan issued a press release last week, announcing she will sign the bill in its current form because she has “always maintained that allowing doctors to provide relief to patients through the use of appropriately regulated and dispensed medical marijuana is the compassionate and right policy for the State of New Hampshire.”
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. The Illinois Legislature approved similar legislation in May and it is now awaiting the governor's signature.