New Hampshire Legalizes Medical Marijuana

July 24, 2013

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan on Tuesday signed a new medical marijuana bill into law, officially making her state the 19th to allow doctors to prescribe the drug.

State lawmakers in both legislative houses overwhelmingly approved the new law in June, and Gov. Hassan said she would sign the bill, thereby making New Hampshire the last state in New England to legalize medical marijuana.

“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 a statement.

The measure permits patients with “chronic or terminal disease” or “debilitating medical conditions” to obtain prescriptions for marijuana.  Under the new law, these patients will be allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of the drug, which they would have to obtain from a nonprofit marijuana dispensary.

“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,” Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Those suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis deserve legal, safe and reliable access to medical marijuana.”

An initial version of the bill would have allowed patients to grow their own marijuana at home, but Gov. Hassan successfully removed that provision. And to prevent patients from going “doctor shopping” to find one that will prescribe the drug, the law requires patients to obtain the prescription from a medical provider that they have been seeing for at least 90 days. That provision ensures that patients have tried other remedies and exhibited ongoing symptoms before resorting to marijuana use.

The new law allows for the licensing of up to four marijuana dispensaries, each of which can grow a maximum of 80 marijuana plants and possess 80 ounces of marijuana, or 6 ounces per patient.

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