Bill would expand conditions qualifying for medical pot
CONCORD — State lawmakers continue to work to expand New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law with respect to additional qualifying conditions.
The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to include Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that can cause severe pain.
The House has passed other bills this session expanding the qualifying medical illnesses or conditions, including legislation adding post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
“This bill would give patients another option for pain relief without the use of opioids,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said in introducing the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome bill.
The Senate passed the bill without debate, something notable given the heated discussions at the State House before the Legislature, in June 2013, passed the state’s law legalizing the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, which then-Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law.
The list of qualifying medical conditions continues to grow, which signals more acceptance among patients and doctors, said Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, a co-sponsor of the original law and the Senate bill adopted Tuesday.
“It’s all just to increase acceptance by the medical community,” he said.
The conditions include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
The state continues to update the statute. Last August, ulcerative colitis was added as a qualifying medical condition.
State law authorizes the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to add medical conditions that are not specifically listed, and medical providers may request the addition of other eligible conditions through a petition process.
New Hampshire now has four medical cannabis dispensaries open, in Lebanon, Dover, Plymouth, and Merrimack.
It is a separate issue, but the House voted, 318-36, earlier this month to pass a marijuana decriminalization bill, which Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, supports.
The bill reduces the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana or marijuana-infused products by someone 21 and older, to a violation. The decriminalization bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.