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N.H. Medical Marijuana Is Turning 5, So How's The Program Doing?

NHPR Staff

New Hampshire's medical marijuana law turns 5 next month, and the Therapeutic Cannabis Advisory Council will be issuing a five-year status report on how the program has operated.

State Sen. John Reagan, a Deerfield Republican who sponsored the medical marijuana bill, says it's received positive feedback so far. He discusses the law in this video:

New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services issued a report after 2017 that nearly 5,000 patients accessed therapeutic cannabis. There were 325 caregivers and 816 providers.

Those numbers are expected to increase, possibly dramatically, given that additional qualifying conditions have been added as permissible under the law. Post traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain were recently added.

The first dispensaries, called Alternative Treatment Centers, opened in 2016. Gov. Chris Sununu recently signed a bill into law that authorizes DHHS to move ahead and allow an additional two centers to open, which would bring the total to six. (See map at end of this post.)

State lawmakers have approved several technical tweaks and updates to the law since it was enacted in 2013. One of the bills passed this year includes establishing a medical oversight board for the therapeutic cannabis program, with the idea that physicians would be monitoring the clinical, quality, and public health matters of medicinal use of marijuana.

During one of the cannabis advisory couincil's meetings late last year, the Department of Safety representative was asked if the crime rate had increased as a result of therapeutic cannabis. Lt. John Encarnacao responded that he had not been notified of any issues, nor had he heard anything negative about the program, according to the meeting minutes.

Reagan, in the video above, suggests medical marijuana could be of help as New Hampshire continues to combat the opioid epidemic.

"We're surrounded by states that have various levels of use and ability to purchase cannabis and the medical reports get better and better," he says. "It's been a godsend plant for sick people."

Click this interactive map and green icons to explore therapeutic cannabis centers in N.H.

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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