Would-be New Hampshire medical marijuana patients have to wait and suffer while their legislators take their sweet time getting the state's newly-created and recently-approved medical marijuana bills signed into law.
Photo by Sesmm123.
The bill, which creates a state-regulated marijuana dispensary program and allows registered patients to purchase and posses up to two ounces of cannabis, was approved June 26, but has been sitting on the desk of House Speaker Terie Norelli since then - unsigned. Once it makes it to the governor, the new laws go into place.
Norelli isn't protesting the bill or anything like that, though. She's just been too "busy" to sign it she says. Once she signs the bill, it moves over to Senate President Peter Bragon for his John Hancock. After that it can finally make its way to Gov. Maggie Hassan for final approval - which she has indicated she would grant.
Interestingly, the governor only has five working days to sign the bill. It's the legislature that has an unlimited time frame to get things done.
Norelli's spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the congresswoman was traveling this week and would sign the bill sometime next week. Hassan has said she would approve the bill after requesting that legislators remove provisions allowing medical marijuana patients to grow at home while the state dispensary program gets up and running - even though that could take as long as a couple of years. A newly-created commission will begin rulemaking processes to create the industry as soon as the bill is made into law.
Dispensaries would be capped at growing 80 plants each, with 160 "seedlings" and 80 ounces of dried herb on hand at any given time.
While it is frustrating for New Hampshire voters, it seems that it is just business as usual for the slow-moving legislature.
That isn't the case in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie still has not signed into law a bill that would greatly increase access to medical cannabis for sick children in that state.
Currently, families have to get the approval of three doctors for children to access medical cannabis including from a child psychiatrist. Unable to get psychiatrists around the state to sign off on the bill, many parents have had to watch their children suffer while medicine lies just out of reach. Senate Bill 2842 changes that to one doctor's recommendation and also allows New Jersey dispensaries to sell more than three strains of cannabis as well as offer a broader range of edibles.
Christie has voiced his opposition, despite heart wrenching testimony from New Jersey families desperate for alternative treatments after all others have failed. Over the last few weeks, Christie has received more than 1,500 faxes urging him to support the bill, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
But the governor has remained silent on what he will do, except for saying that he is "not inclined" to increase access for children.
Christie has until August 8 to sign the bill.