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Bill for N.H. Patients to Grow Own Marijuana Faces Defeat

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

State lawmakers recently passed a bill designed to expand access to medical marijuana through additional dispensaries, but a bill to allow patients to grow pot for personal use appears headed for defeat.

A Senate committee voted this week to recommend the bill be referred to interim study.

The bill would permit qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic use.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed the bill, on a voice vote, back in March. The House report on the proposal concluded that allowing cultivation with established safeguards could address access and affordability issues.

Sen. John Reagan, a Deerfield Republican whose long advocated for expanding access since the state’s therapeutic cannabis program became law in 2013, says the legislation is not dead yet. He says other states with medical marijuana laws have allowed a limited home-grow option for qualifying patients, and without issues.

On the issue of access for approved patients, the House on Thursday passed a bill to possibly establish two additional medical cannabis dispensaries in New Hampshire.

There are currently four centers: Dover, Lebanon, Merrimack, and Plymouth.

The legislation, passed by both the House and Senate, would authorize the state Department of Health and Human Services to establish an “alternative treatment center” in an area representing Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties, and another located to serve people in Cheshire and Sullivan counties.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said patients have testified that access and affordability remain challenges in the state. In a statement on the proposed home cultivation for qualifying patients, Simon called it "a simple, much-need reform."

Dan is a long-time New Hampshire journalist who has written for outlets including Foster's Daily Democrat, The Citizen of Laconia, The Boston Globe, and The Eagle-Tribune. He comes to NHPR from the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he reported on state, local, and national politics.
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