|New Hampshire state house.|
New Hampshire officially became the
19th 20th (sorry Maryland, forgot about you for a second) state to allow for medical marijuana Tuesday as Gov. Maggie Hassan finally signed House Bill 573 into law.
The law creates a state-regulated marijuana dispensary program allowing patients to purchase and possess up to two ounces of medical cannabis. Initial drafts would have allowed patients to cultivate their own cannabis, but Hassan pledged to veto the bill if that provision wasn’t removed. Patient growing was out, so the guv signed the bill.
The law was actually approved June 26, but was held up in the state House for nearly a month waiting on the signature of House Speaker Terie Norelli who was on vacation.
“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, and this legislation ensures that we approach this policy in the right way with measures to prevent abuse,” Hassan said in release.
The program could take a year to get up and going and patients likely won’t be able to access cannabis until 2015 according to analysts. Still, it is a step forward in getting sick people the medicine they need.
The Marijuana Policy Project praised the legislation.
“This legislation is long overdue and comes as a relief to the many seriously ill patients throughout New Hampshire who will benefit from safe access to medical marijuana,” said MPP analyst Matt Simon in a press release. “Those suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis deserve legal, safe, and reliable access to medical marijuana. The vast majority of Americans recognize the medical benefits of marijuana and believe people with serious illnesses should have safe and legal access to it. We applaud our elected officials for enacting a law to protect patients, and we hope legislators in other states will follow suit.”