Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan today signed legislation (HB 573) into law making New Hampshire the 19th state to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis for qualified patients.
Governor Hassan issued the following public statement upon the bill’s passage:
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.
By providing strong regulatory oversight and clear dispensing guidelines, this bill addresses many of the concerns that were expressed throughout the legislative process. HB 573 legalizes the use of medical marijuana in a way that makes sense for the State of New Hampshire and gives health providers another option to help New Hampshire’s seriously ill patients.
The new law creates four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to state-qualified patients who possess a doctor’s recommendation. Patients must have a preexisting relationship of at least three months with their physician prior to receiving a recommendation for cannabis therapy. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately twenty qualifying conditions — including cancer, hepatitis C, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — will be permitted to legally possess up to two-ounces of cannabis. Under the law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility. Qualified patients will not be provided with any legal protections to possess or use cannabis prior to the establishment of such facilities.
It has been estimated that it may take state regulators as much as two years to get the nascent program up and running.
As originally passed by the House, the measure allowed qualified patients the option to grow their own cannabis. It also allowed physicians to recommend cannabis for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. Both provisions were stripped from the bill by the Senate at the request of the Governor.
A similar measure awaits action from the Governor in Illinois.
New Hampshire is the sixth and final New England state — joining Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine — to enact medical marijuana legislation.