Thanks to pressure from Gov. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Senate health committee stripped provisions of proposed state medical marijuana laws allowing patents to cultivate their own supply. The committee also removed post-traumatic stress disorder from the list of qualifying conditions.
New Hampshire state house.
With the amendments, New Hampshire looks poised to join the 19 other states and Washington D.C. in allowing doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients, who can legally possesses and use the herb.
Originally, the bill allowed for home cultivation in addition to a state-regulated dispensary system set up to provide patients with their medical marijuana.
The changes disallowing home cultivation mean that patients may have to wait two years before legally obtaining marijuana. In the meantime, they'll continue to resort to other ways of getting their cannabis, making them criminals when all they want to do is ease their suffering in one way or another.
But the legislature seems to either not know that is the case, or are choosing to ignore it outright. "I think the important thing in this process is to get legislation moved forward so that we can begin to help our citizens that are critically ill, and start out with a small process that can be expanded later on if we find that it's not meeting all of the needs," Sen. Nancy Stiles told the Concord Monitor.
We'll Senator, if you wanted to begin to help your citizens, you would have fought for them to grow their own medicine. Instead, the amendment was unanimously passed you and the rest of the five-member committee.
So while the bill passing would be a step forward in one way, it leaves current patients in the dark. That includes former Libertarian Party congressional candidate Hardy Macia, who recorded a video plea to the governor from his hospital bed where he's being treated (as best they can) for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Macia expects he has only two more months to live.
"Think about the people, think about the patients, ignore the police unions," he says. "You really need to do this for the state." Watch the video below.
Some marijuana advocacy groups, including the Marijuana Policy Project, have called for - at the very least -- a compromise that would allow patients to grow their own until the state dispensary system is up and running.
The committee further watered down the bill in several other ways, including: requiring patients in rented properties to get permission from their landlord before using marijuana on the property, and reducing the number of dispensaries in the state from five down to four.
The bill now heads to the full senate for a vote, possibly next week. If passed by the Senate, the House and Senate would have to then work out the differences in a committee before sending it to the governor for final approval. Lets' hope the House - which passed the original bill with more than 80 percent support - has more of a backbone than the Senate does to fight for patient rights.