New Hampshire lawmakers ponder over medical and recreational cannabis measures

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Around two dozen bills related to cannabis have been submitted for New Hampshire’s 2020 legislative session. On January 22, a group of lawmakers that form the Senate Health and Human Services Committee filed bills to permit home cannabis cultivation among state-registered medical cannabis patients, in addition to proposals that would legalize the plant for recreational purposes.

This isn’t the first time that the U.S. state has pushed for cannabis reform. A vote of 200-163 by New Hampshire House during the 2019 legislative session saw an adult-use legalization bill gain approval. However, legislation was delayed by the Senate; a decision that was made after the Judiciary Committee announced it was still pondering over the fine details of legislation.

New Hampshire’s medical cannabis bill would expand list of qualifying conditions

New qualifying conditions like autism would be added to New Hampshire’s medical cannabis criteria if a bill is enacted into law. Some of the existing qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in New Hampshire include Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Traumatic brain injury and wasting syndrome.

Based on the language contained in some of the medical cannabis bills submitted for New Hampshire’s 2020 legislative session, patients would be able to gain employment protection. Furthermore, the program would become more accessible to a larger number of patients, with lawmakers focused on improving affordability. Out-of-state residents would also able to get their hands on medical cannabis by visiting state-licensed dispensaries.

New Hampshire’s cannabis bill would allow patients to grow their own medicine

Medical cannabis patients in New Hampshire have been able to purchase medicinal-grade products from licensed dispensaries since the middle of 2015, when the first state-approved store opened its doors. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 7,120 patients have enrolled in the program. 

A piece of legislation recently introduced suggests a home-growing option for patients who can’t afford to purchase their medicine at the state’s dispensaries. Instead, they would be granted the opportunity to grow their own cannabis for medical use. A similar bill was introduced last year, before being vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu. Fortunately, Sununu has not (yet) dismissed New Hampshire’s cannabis bills.

New Hampshire’s cannabis bills would also permit home-growing for recreational purposes

In addition to New Hampshire‘s medical cannabis bills, two recreational cannabis-focused bills have also been put forward this year. One of those bills would enable adults to possess a maximum of 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis at any given time. Additionally, adults would be able to grow six plants for personal use. Unfortunately, this bill does not include language to kickstart a commercial market.

The fight to legalize adult-use cannabis in New Hampshire for 2020 continues. Advocates are currently trying to pass House Bill 1648 in what has been dubbed an “island of prohibition”. This bill would legalize cannabis possession and home cultivation for adults aged 21 and above. HB 1648 was recommended for passage by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in a 13-7 vote on January 28. Click here to read a summary of the bill.