CONCORD, NH – A bill allowing seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use marijuana for medical purposes moved one step closer to becoming law Wednesday afternoon when the House voted in favor by a record 286-64 margin.
Similar bills passed the House with more than two-thirds support in 2009, 2011, and 2012, but this year’s total represents the strongest show of support yet by the House.
The committee made a number of changes to the bill, including a language change — from “medical marijuana” to “therapeutic use of cannabis” — which was suggested by the New Hampshire Medical Society.
As amended, the bill would allow qualifying patients to cultivate up to three mature plants or obtain cannabis from one of five non-profit, state-regulated alternative treatment centers.
Under the amended bill, registered medical marijuana patients from other states would not be allowed to purchase marijuana at dispensaries, but will still be able to bring up to two ounces of medical marijuana into the state. All states bordering New Hampshire allow medical marijuana.
The bill will next be considered by the Senate, which passed similar legislation in 2009 and 2012. Gov. Hassan previously expressed support for making medical marijuana legal in the Granite State.
“This overwhelming vote comes as a great relief to patients who have been waiting years to legally follow their doctors’ advice,” said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Patients should not have to live in fear of arrest in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, and it’s a great relief for them to see such strong, bipartisan support from the House.”
A Granite State Poll conducted earlier in February found that 79% of New Hampshire adults support allowing doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses.
Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed support for passing medical marijuana legislation. A similar medical marijuana bill that passed with bipartisan support last session was vetoed by then-governor John Lynch.