CONCORD, NH -- In a huge victory for patients and their families, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 5-0 to approve New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill, SB 409. A vote by the full Senate is expected next week.
Senators Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Gary Lambert (R-Nashua), Andy Sanborn (R-Henniker), Tom DeBlois (R-Litchfield), and Molly Kelly (D-Keene) all voted in favor of the bill, having considered over two and a half hours of testimony at a March 8 public hearing.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), expressed satisfaction with the vote: “If a seriously ill patient and his or her doctor believe marijuana may be the best option, government should not interfere with that decision, and I’m very pleased to see unanimous agreement from this committee.”
Sen. Ray White (R-Bedford) and Sen. John Gallus (R-Berlin) are the bill’s Senate co-sponsors. House co-sponsors include Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), a cancer survivor, and Rep. Jennifer Coffey (R-Andover), a licensed EMT.
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SB 409 would allow patients with serious illnesses such as MS, cancer, and AIDS to register with the Department of Health and Human Services and receive ID cards protecting them from arrest if marijuana is recommended by their doctors. Qualifying patients would be permitted to cultivate up to six mature plants in an enclosed, locked facility.
Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, praised senators for taking time to fully consider the issue before voting their consciences on the issue.
“This vote will bring hope to New Hampshire patients who shouldn’t have to wait any longer for safe, legal access,” Simon observed following the vote. “The committee appears to understand that these laws are not causing problems in states such as Vermont and Maine, or surely we would hear about them here in New Hampshire.”