Two New Hampshire senators added their support to SB 409 on Wednesday, as the New state Senate voted 13-9 to approve a final draft of the bill. The same final draft was approved by the House in a voice vote Wednesday morning. Now that the House and Senate have passed identical language for SB 409, the bill will be presented to Gov. John Lynch, who has threatened a veto.
Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) and Sen. Fenton Groen (R-Rochester) joined the majority in support after having previously voted in opposition. A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. John Gallus (R-Berlin) was not present for today’s vote.
Advocates noted that 15 senators, including 10 Republicans and all five Democrats, have now voted in favor of the bill this year. One of the previous “yes” votes, former Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Henniker), resigned his seat yesterday to run for office from another district.
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|N.H. State Senator Jim Forsythe: “Most senators now agree we have a moral obligation to protect seriously ill patients from being arrested in our state”|
“SB 409 has earned strong support in both the House and Senate, and soon Gov.Lynch will have an opportunity to do the right thing and sign it into law,” explained Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), the bill’s prime sponsor, vowed he would continue working to gain two additional Senate votes in anticipation that a veto override may be necessary. “Most senators now agree we have a moral obligation to protect seriously ill patients from being arrested in our state,” he explained.
“There is no excuse for maintaining criminal penalties against patients in our state when Vermont, Maine, and 15 other states have created exceptions under state law for medical use,” Forsythe continued. “New Hampshire truly deserves better, and if there’s any way to get SB 409 passed into law, I will continue doing my best to make that happen.”
Longtime House champion Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), a cancer survivor who credits marijuana with helping to save her life, was similarly upbeat after the Senate vote.
“Over the years, we have convinced many legislators to support this critical reform,” Merrick observed. “With support either from Governor Lynch or two additional senators, this bill can finally pass and patients will finally have legal access to medical marijuana.”