medical marijuana

The commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services says he’s concerned about the cost to his department of implementing the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Appearing on The Exchange, Nicholas Toumpas says there is no shortage of issues facing his staff as it works through the early stages.

“There are legal issues that we have, there are systems issues that need to be developed, there are protocols that need to be developed, there is staffing that is required in order to go off and certify and license.”

After a few attempts and two defeats by veto, New Hampshire became the last New England state to pass a medical marijuana bill into law. The law is one of the strictest in the country as users cannot grow their own plants and the list of ailments allowed are small. Now as the state prepares for it, it also has to answer questions around dispensing the drug and how to keep it in the right people's hands. We'll look at the big unanswered questions and what roadblocks still may be in the way.

Guests:

Governor Hassan signed a bill Tuesday, making New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana.

Hassan says the law breaks new ground by giving seriously ill patients what they need – medical marijuana from up to four state-authorized dispensaries.

“We’re really looking forward to getting them up and running as quickly as possible but also making sure again that we’re doing it the right way for New Hampshire and that we can prevent abuse, as well.”

Before going into recess, lawmakers in Concord will vote this week on the state budget and other deals reached during committees of conference, including Voter ID and medical marijuana. The Democratically-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate have been at odds over a number of policy issues, but areas of disagreement over the budget were smaller than possibly expected, with the final budget including provisions sought by both chambers and Governor Hassan.

At issue for Governor Hassan was a provision in the House version of the bill that would allow qualifying  patients to grow their own marijuan. Hassan also didn’t like that the House wanted to permit doctors to prescribe cannabis to treat PTSD.

The N.H. Senate had removed both provisions from the its version bill at Hassan’s behest, and House negotiators say under the circumstances going along made sense. Concord Democrat Jim McKay is Chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Sara Plourde

Today on The Exchange, it's our Friday New Hampshire News Roundup. We're looking at some of the top stories of the week, from the one public hearing held on the state Senate's budget, to the House's hard look at the Senate casino bill, and the removal of "grow your own" policy from the medical marijuana bill.

Guests:

Kevin Landrigan - Longtime political reporter for the Telegraph of Nashua.

Josh Rogers, NHPR

Go to any medical marijuana hearing and you will hear people suffering from severe illness or injury extolling the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. But in NH you have never heard things like this. Elizabeth Woodcock is with the NH Department of Justice:

The NH attorney general’s office is willing to work with the committee and with the medical community to see if we can resolve the concerns that we have about the bill, and that’s the only thing I came to say.

House Panel Backs Medical Marijuana 14-1

Mar 7, 2013

A bill to legalize medical marijuana has cleared a committee of the New Hampshire House on a 14-1 vote. And the final version of the bill was rewritten with an eye towards placating the state’s Medical Society.

911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas via flickr Creative Commons

Marijuana is now legal in Washington and Colorado and medical marijuana is legal or pending approval in dozens of states across the country, including New Hampshire which is voting on a bill tomorrow. It raises the question: how high is too high to drive under the influence of pot? That’s something to consider here in New Hampshire, where a UNH/ WMUR poll showed 79% approval for legalizing medical marijuana. Josh Harkinson covers a wide range of topics for Mother Jones, and recently wrote about the as-yet-undefined meaning of driving under the influence.

A New Hampshire House Committee votes tomorrow morning on a bill allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.  If the bill becomes law, it would make New Hampshire the last New England state to allow medical marijuana.  Supporters say that, for some patients, it's the only hope and that New Hampshire needs to catch up with the rest of the region. But concerns of medical marijuana remain, like how to ensure it's only used by truly needy patients and fears that this is just the first step to legalizing pot.

Guests

A proposal to legalize medical marijuana went before a house committee today.  Lead Sponsor, Exeter Democrat Donna Schlachman promoted the plan as one that has profited from experiences -- good and bad -- of medical marijuana laws passed in other states.

"You cannot physician shop, and just start getting multiple prescriptions. You have to be a qualifying patient, and there is very strict definition of what qualifies you for this prescription._

  

Newly-elected Governor Maggie Hassan has expressed willingness to support medical marijuana, which means this year’s attempt at a bill stands a better chance of becoming law.  To get an idea of how things could play out if that happens, we thought we'd turn to our western neighbor, Vermont, and see how the program is working there.

Shayne Lynn of Burlington recently obtained a license to operate a state-sanctioned dispensary. I began by asking him why he's starting a dispensary.

The rest of New England now allows use of marijuana for certain health conditions.  And with a Governor-elect saying she’s open to the idea here….supporters are feeling hopeful.  But opponents still have many concerns, among them: that medical marijuana would be hard to control, encouraging use by those who aren’t even sick. 

Guests:

Flikr Creative Commons / Herkie

A list of the top-ten most-read stories on nhpr.org and stateimpact.npr.org/new-hampshire.

Ovide Lamontagne Outlines Campaign for Governor

Aug 14, 2012
Portrait of Republican candidate for state  governor, Ovide Lamontagne
courtesy of the candidate

Republican candidate for governor, Ovide Lamontagne, came on NHPR’s ‘The Exchange’ today to discuss his campaign.

Lamontagne says his campaign is focused on the economy and jobs. He wants to loosen regulations on local business and support free enterprise.

He also says he would develop a ‘zero-base’ or ‘prospective’ budget versus New Hampshire’s current ‘maintenance’-style budget.

N.H. Senate Fails To Override Medical Marijuana Veto

Jun 27, 2012

The New Hampshire Senate has failed to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of a bill that would legalize the home cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.

Governor Stubs Medical Marijuana Law

Jun 21, 2012
DJWhelan / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. John Lynch has made no secret of his opposition to medical marijuana in the state. He says Senate Bill 409 poses health dangers to patients, lacks oversight and could lead to more pot in the hands of minors.

The governor vetoed a similar measure in 2009.

Medical Marijuana Showdown Looms

May 30, 2012
Toben Hansen / Flickr/Creative Commons

The House and Senate reached agreement today on a medical marijuana bill

This final version would allow patients with a doctor’s prescription to possess up to six ounces of marijuana. Medicinal use would only be granted to people with debilitating conditions or terminal diseases.

Senator James Forsythe, a Republican from Strafford, believes the bill is designed to ensure public safety.

NH House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

May 16, 2012

The New Hampshire House has ignored a veto promise and passed a bill to legalize home cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.

Wednesday's House vote sends the bill back to the Senate to review changes.

The Senate-passed bill would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions or the patient's designated caretaker to cultivate and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered location.

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