CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A provision to allow people to grow their own medical marijuana could be a sticking point in a bill currently working its way through the New Hampshire Legislature that would legalize the drug for those with chronic or terminal illnesses.
This is the fourth time in six years that lawmakers have tried to pass a medical marijuana bill. Former Democratic Gov. John Lynch vetoed the previous three attempts. Gov. Maggie Hassan, also a Democrat, has said she would support legalizing medical marijuana, but a spokesman said Friday she has concerns about home growing.
"The governor believes any measure permitting the use of medically prescribed marijuana must ensure that the method of distribution is safe and tightly regulated and has concerns about the ability to properly regulate a home grow option, but she will continue to listen to the concerns of advocates, law enforcement and legislators as the process moves forward," Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said.
Supporters of the home cultivation provision said it's crucial for access by patients in rural areas and could significantly bring down costs to people already facing steep medical bills.
"Beyond the long-term savings for patients, in other states it's taken at least a year, sometimes more, to get dispensaries up and running," said Matt Simon, an advocate with the Marijuana Policy Project, "In New Jersey, it took three years and that's too long for many patients."
The bill before the House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee would allow patients or a caregiver to grow up to four adult plants and 12 seedlings at one time. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, including all five other New England states. The District of Columbia and four other states prohibit home cultivation.
At a hearing Thursday, people dealing with chronic pain and their families urged New Hampshire lawmakers to pass a medical marijuana law. Many said they would prefer to cultivate their own plants, including Rep. Ted Wright, R-Moultonborough, whose wife is battling cancer.