Advocates call on NH legislature to override veto and respond to public health needs of its patients
CONCORD, NH — In a rebuke to the New Hampshire state legislature and thousands of patients, Governor John Lynch vetoed medical marijuana legislation today for the second time since 2009, despite strong legislative and popular support.
SB 409 passed the New Hampshire House by an overwhelming vote of 236-96, more than the two-thirds needed to override the governor’s veto. However, because of a narrower margin in the senate, an override is less certain. SB 409 would protect the right of qualifying patients to cultivate their own medical marijuana or designate a caregiver to cultivate it for them, and would limit possession to 6 plants and 6 ounces of dried marijuana.
“We applaud the New Hampshire legislature for trying to meet the health care needs of thousands of its citizens,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. “Unfortunately, a departing governor with an axe to grind is getting in the way of this important and popularly supported legislation. We’re now calling on the legislature to rise to the occasion, and override the governor’s veto.”
Advocates were successful during deliberations to incorporate patient cultivation into the list of enumerated rights, something common to most state medical marijuana laws, but absent from the more recent laws passed in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. In states without patient cultivation, implementation has lagged thereby causing the rights of thousands of otherwise qualifying patients to be denied. The sluggish pace of implementation is also due in part to threats of criminal prosecution being made by the Obama Administration.
Advocates in New Hampshire also pushed for and achieved the passage of other amendments to SB 409, such as one that would protect organ transplant patients against discrimination. Purging medical marijuana patients from transplant lists is a common practice at transplant centers across the country, including the internationally renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
SB 409 originally called for “Alternative Treatment Centers,” centralized regulated facilities where patients could safely and legally obtain their medication. This provision, however, was stricken from the bill during deliberations. States with older medical marijuana laws, such as California, Maine, Vermont, and Washington, which originally excluded distribution systems, have either recently adopted or are trying to pass amendments that recognize that need.
The passage of SB 409 and Governor Lynch’s veto comes as Connecticut adopted a law earlier this month, making it the 17th medical marijuana state. Medical marijuana laws have been passed in the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.