|New Hampshire state house.|
The New Hampshire House and Senate both approved medical marijuana bills this past session, but the differences between the two proposals were big enough that the two legislative bodies were forced to hammer out their differences in a joint committee.
And from the latest reports, it seems they’ve reached a compromise.
Among the biggest points of contention was a provision in the House bill that would have allowed patients and caregivers to cultivate their own supply. That rule was stripped from the Senate bill, and House leaders have let if fall by the wayside in exchange for the Senate approving an additional medical marijuana center – bringing the total number of dispensaries allowed in the state to four. The centers could open as early as 2015.
The bill would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions could hold up to two ounces of cannabis at a time. Dispensaries would be capped at 80 plants apiece and would only be able to have up to 80 ounces of dried marijuana at a time. Patients would have to have been seeing their doctor for at least 90 days before the doctor could write a cannabis recommendation.
With the issues ironed out, the legislature will again vote on the bill early next week. Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she approves of the changes and will sign the amended bill if it makes it to her desk. Hassan was among the most vocal opponents to home cultivation and threatened to veto any bills that included such allowances.
State representatives say they gave up on the home cultivation piece as a way of moving the measure forward. “My attitude was we wanted to get something passed,” Rep. Jim MacKay said at a press conference. “This is a complex subject with many possible options.”
The newly-worded bill also makes it illegal for patients to posesss marijuana unless it comes from one of the four licensed shops. That means patients who have a recommendation from a doctor who are caught with herb before the shops open would face criminal charges.
“We already know we have patients who are using under the guidance or approval of their medical provider,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Donna Schlachman, to the Nashua Teleraph. “It’s a little bit irksome, because we know it’s not the patients using who are the problem for law enforcement.”