New Hampshire Becomes 19th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana
I just got back from a vacation in New Hampshire and people there were abuzz about the new pot law in the Granite State. It was really cool to talk openly about the benefits of medical cannabis with my parents, cousins and friends–folks who for years were vehemently opposed to the medical legitimacy of the herb. Such conversations represent a sea change that is sweeping the country.
Yesterday Govenor Maggie Hassan, the only female Democrat Governor in the nation, signed into law a bill that legalizes medical marijuana for patients approved by a doctor.
‘‘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 Tuesday in a prepared statement.
Unfortunately, she removed a clause allowing patients to grow plants at home, so they have to go out and get their medicine at a nonprofit dispensary. That action raises the question: Where are the dispensaries getting their product? Probably from some other state or from someone growing it illegally. That doesn’t really make sense to me. Additionally there’s only going to be four dispensaries in the entire state, which feels like baby steps, but hey, New Hampshire is pretty small and rural. I just wonder if the four businesses will be able to adequately supply all the demand that the new legislation will incur. People are obviously growing on their own already but there’s a slew of qualified patients that would want to use it, but are afraid to get the medicine illegally.
“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,” said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative aide for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Those suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis deserve legal, safe, and reliable access to medical marijuana.”
This is definitely a step in the right direction. Now nearly half of the states in the nation have provisions for medical marijuana, which increases the pressure on the Obama Administration to rethink its Schedule I classification of the herbal stimulant. Five other states (Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and New York) are currently debating similar bills that would legalize medical marijuana, which would put the magic number at 24 states and the District of Columbia. If Obama knows what’s good for him, he will make nationwide legalization a priority, the realization of which would be a crowning achievement in his second term of office; if it happens he would cement a legacy of enacting landmark progressive achievements.