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March 06. 2014 8:13PM

NH House give OK to homegrown marijuana for people who need it

CONCORD — Disregarding a likely veto by Gov. Maggie Hassan, the House Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would allow ill Granite Staters who can legally obtain medical marijuana to cultivate small amounts on their own while state-run treatment facilities are being readied.

With no debate, the House passed House Bill 1622 to the state Senate on a vote of 227-73, upholding the strong, 13-3 recommendation of its Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. It would allow qualifying patients and their caregivers to “cultivate cannibas for therapeutic use.”

The bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.

The use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from severe illnesses was passed into law last year. The version passed by the House contained a so-called “home grow” provision, but Hassan strongly opposed that part of the bill and said she would veto the overall bill if the provision were included.

The Senate as a result removed it, leaving state-licensed “alternative treatment centers” as the sole source of the medication.

“Home grow” supporters said it would be cheaper and allow immediate relief for patient instead of forcing them to wait at least two years until a system to dispense the drug was established. But faced with the veto threat, the House relented and accepted the bill without the “home grow” provision.

A spokesman for the governor reaffirmed Thursday that her position has not changed.

The bill passed Thursday allows patients who cannot wait for the alternative treatment centers to grow and possess no more than two mature plants and 12 seedlings.

The location of the home grown plants would be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services and patients who grow their own plants would lose their authorization to grow their own when the treatment centers opened within 30 miles of where they reside.

“We applaud House members for continuing to stand up for people with debilitating conditions who could benefit from medical marijuana,” Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said after the vote.

“Seriously ill patients in New Hampshire have waited long enough for legal access to medical marijuana, and some simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

He said the MPP is optimistic the Senate will pass the bill.


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