Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee in 14-3 Vote

CONCORD – The House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee brought seriously ill Granite Staters closer to relief today with a 14-3 “ought to pass” vote on a bill to allow the medical use of marijuana. H.B. 442, which creates a narrow exception in New Hampshire law for people with certain qualifying conditions to use marijuana to treat their conditions with a doctor’s recommendation, will now move on to the full House for a vote.

Introduced by Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), herself a cancer survivor, the bill has 5 Republican cosponsors, including the chair of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee, Rep. John Reagan (R-Deerfield).  HB 442 also enjoys strong support among voters; a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 71% of New Hampshire voters are in favor of allowing the use of medical marijuana, with only 21% opposed.

“Today’s vote once again shows that when legislators learn the facts about medical marijuana, they are motivated to allow its use by seriously ill patients,” explained Kirk McNeil, executive director for the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

The bill would create a tightly regulated ID system for all patients, as well as establish state-licensed alternative treatment centers to provide safe access to medical marijuana. It also includes strict rules regarding public use, impairment, and driving under the influence.

The General Court approved a medical marijuana bill in 2009, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch. The House voted by more than two-thirds to override the veto, but the effort in the Senate fell two votes short. Washington, D.C. and fifteen other states, including Vermont and Maine, have enacted laws protecting patients whose doctors recommend medical marijuana.