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NH House Roundup: 2 bills passed adding chronic pain to medical marijuana program


CONCORD — Bills that would add chronic pain to the conditions qualifying for medical marijuana have now passed both the Senate and House, and one will likely be signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu.

Senate Bill 15 passed the House on a voice vote Thursday.

Rep. Mindi Messmer, D-Rye, cited a National Academy of Science report that supports the use of therapeutic cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, and claims it to be effective.

The House Health and Human Services Committee endorsed the Senate bill 17-2 .

“The committee feels that doctors should be able to prescribe therapeutic cannabis for severe pain as an alternative to opioids,” according to Messmer.

On the same day, the Senate passed House Bill 157, which also adds chronic pain to qualifying conditions under the therapeutic use of cannabis program. The Senate vote on HB 157 was 18-5.

“We are crossing a threshold from using medical marijuana to treat an illness to treating a symptom,” said Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, in opposition.

Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, said that when doctors can’t determine the origin of chronic pain, “It is more of a condition than a symptom.”

Both bills, saying essentially the same thing, now head for the governor’s desk. “They both go to the governor and the last one signed takes precedence,” according to Jim Rivers, director of House communications.

There are slight differences in the House and Senate bills.

Sununu’s interim communications director, Michael Todd, said the governor will consider each bill individually as they reach his desk.

The House also passed SB 17, which adds treatment for hepatitis C to qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Firecrackers legalized

SB 23, a bill legalizing small firecrackers, also passed the House, 229-117.

The bill legalizes so-called “consumer firecrackers,” which are legal in 34 other states.

The firecrackers would only be sold in stores licensed by the Department of Safety. More powerful fireworks like M-80s, cherry bombs and the like would remain prohibited.

Casino bill

Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend killing Sen. Lou D’Allesandro’s latest casino legalization bill, 19-1.

“This is an historic vote,” said Rep. Patty Lovejoy, D- Stratham. “I don’t ever remember the Ways and Means Committee taking as unified a position in opposition to casino gambling as we saw today.”

The full House of Representatives is expected to lay the matter to rest on May 4.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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