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Nh: Medical Pot Program May Grow In 2017

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Newshawk: http://drugnewsbot.org
Pubdate: Mon, 26 Dec 2016
Source: Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
Copyright: 2016 The Union Leader Corp.
Contact: letters@unionleader.com
Website: http://www.unionleader.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/761
Note: Out-of-state letters are seldom published.
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Author: Shawne K. Wickham, New Hampshire Sunday News


The state's medical marijuana program has been up and running for nearly
eight months, and now some lawmakers are looking to expand the program in

Eleven Legislative Service Requests (LSRs) for the upcoming session --
requests submitted by legislators to have bills drafted -- relate to
therapeutic cannabis.

Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, is sponsoring a measure to allow patients
to cultivate therapeutic cannabis for their own use.

The idea was a sticking point in the original debate about starting a
program here. Gov. Maggie Hassan and the New Hampshire Association of
Chiefs of Police opposed a grow-your-own provision, so the law was passed
without it.

But the proposal will be back in 2017. "I think it's time for New
Hampshire to be able to make that available to patients," Cushing said.

To him, it's a matter of "economic justice," he said. While medical
marijuana is now legal in New Hampshire for qualifying patients, health
insurance doesn't cover it. So, "If you don't have the money to buy it,
you don't have access to it."

But Northwood Police Chief Glendon Drolet, president of the chiefs
association, said he expects the group to oppose the grow-your-own bill
because of the "lack of oversight."

"I just think that at this point, if the ball goes faster than the runner,
we're playing catch-up all the time," Drolet said.

Six LSRs would add to the list of qualifying conditions for which a
patient can obtain medical marijuana: chronic pain, fibromyalgia,
post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid addiction, hepatitis C and myelitis
(a neurological disorder).

A patient must have both a qualifying condition and at least one of
certain symptoms -- such as wasting syndrome, severe nausea or seizures --
to be approved to buy medical marijuana from one of the four
state-licensed dispensaries. A licensed physician or advanced practice
registered nurse must certify that the patient has both.

Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, is sponsoring a measure to broaden the
definition of qualifying conditions in the therapeutic cannabis law. The
current language includes 16 specific medical conditions as well as "one
or more injuries that significantly interferes with daily activities as
documented by the patient's provider."

Reagan, who serves on the state's Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advisory
Council, said the council learned that the current language about
"injuries" ended up excluding dozens of patients who would otherwise
qualify for the program.

Reagan asked John Martin, deputy legal counsel for the state health
department, for help drafting a bill that would include both "injuries"
and "conditions" in that language.

That way, a patient would be able to qualify for the program if a doctor
certifies that he or she has a debilitating condition, not just an injury,
explained Martin, who helped craft the state's regulations for therapeutic

In the past, the state has had to reject an application if the doctor did
not specify an injury, even if the patient otherwise qualified, he said.
Reagan's bill tries to address that.

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