New Hampshire Celebrates Bittersweet Anniversary Of Medical Marijuana Program

Officials in the Granite State are still stonewalling on the implementation of medical marijuana legislation signed into law last year.
By @katierucke |
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    Wednesday marked the bittersweet one year anniversary of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signing the state’s medical marijuana legislation into law.

    One year later, though, and that law has yet to take effect.

    Instead of rejoicing, medical marijuana patients and advocates “celebrated” the first anniversary of the state’s decision to legalize the drug by holding a demonstration to raise awareness for the delays the state’s medical marijuana program has faced. They also delivered a list of grievances and requests to Hassan’s office.

    “Patients have nothing to celebrate on the first anniversary of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

    “Implementation of the program has been beset by needless delays, and people with debilitating conditions still face criminal penalties for possessing any amount of marijuana,” he said. “This situation is unacceptable.”

    Hassan may have signed New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” program into law on July 23, 2013, but as Simon noted, throughout the past year, medical marijuana patients in the state have continued to be arrested and criminally prosecuted for using the drug.

    No one in the state has been given a patient ID card. Per the instruction of the state Attorney General’s office, the Department of Health and Human Services has been instructed to not issue patient ID cards until the first dispensary opens. Without an ID card, however, patients have no legal protections.

    The problem with waiting to issue ID cards until the first dispensary opens is that the DHHS has not yet produced even a draft of rules for how dispensaries can legally operate in the state — in other words, there are no plans to open a dispensary anytime soon, making the law sort of meaningless for patients who have yet to experience legal relief.

    Since patients are not able to cultivate their own medicine at home, they are still forced to buy their medicine on the black market. Further, marijuana is not decriminalized in the state, meaning instead of treating minor marijuana possession as a civil infraction that carries a small fine, patients often find themselves behind bars for possessing the substance.

    Even if the law would have been fully implemented by now, many medical marijuana patients and advocates point out that the law is not friendly to patients. This may explain why the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access gave New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program a “D.”

    When it comes to access to medicine, New Hampshire’s program got 43 out of a possible 100 points, according to ASA’s white paper on medical marijuana access in the United States.

    As the Marijuana Policy Project notes in a list of patients’ 10 grievances with New Hampshire’s program — or lack thereof — part of the issue with implementing the program is related to the fact that there isn’t a patient representative on the advisory council that was established to help implement the program.

    In fact, the first person who was appointed to the council was Tuftonboro Chief of Police Andrew Shagoury. He was the leading opponents to allowing patients access to cannabis, and he continues to oppose marijuana legalization, even for medicinal use.

    MPP notes that while a patient was appointed to the advisory council, that individual has not attended a single meeting and doesn’t appear willing to “represent the interests of patients.”

    Meanwhile, another concern is that New Hampshire doesn’t allow those with post-traumatic stress disorder to register as a medical marijuana patient, and the state actually requires patients to have both a listed symptom and a listed condition to qualify.

    “We’re fed up with state officials’ stonewalling,” Simon said. “It’s time to start listening to the seriously ill people the medical marijuana law was intended to help.”

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    • Live Free or Die

      I am an OUTRAGED US SERVICE CONNECTED VETERAN in need of pain relief to due a military induced condition and a mother of Two US VETERANS who also served for the freedoms we enjoy. How dare the state of New Hampshire use a smoke screen of ill intentions to ignore the sick. I call that discrimination at it’s utmost finest. I do believe that discrimination of any group or individual is against the Federal and State laws. It would be an interesting lawsuit if “We, As The People of New Hampshire” stood together and fought for OUR rights. Live Free or Die

      • Cupcake

        We, the citizens of N.H., the “live FREE or Die” state, should ban together and hire Sven Wiber. He is the legal rep for NORML in N.H.
        If enough of the state wants Marijuana legalized then if we all get together with his legal representation, maybe we can convince the state to stop causing problems for the people that live here and pay taxes.
        The politicians are suppose to be here to enact and represent what we the people want not what they want (money).
        One dispensary in Denver just paid in OVER 40 million dollars in tax REVENUE to the state of Colorado for 2014. WOW.
        So our state is saying NO to that kind of prosperity. We should be moving FORWARD not back.
        Does Maggie Hassan really care about the people she represents? Not hardly. Something needs to change in this state drastically and very soon or this state is going to fall further behind the rest in respect, violence ( because the people will eventually rise up), and financially, we are in deficit and there is NO reason for it. We LIVE in this state TO BE free and we are the farthest from it.

        If you want this legalized then lets ban together as a united people and fight for OUR rights not what MAggie wants. ( more alcohol the WORST drug in the world)

    • $20 A LID

      The honorable governor Maggie Hasshole has no intentions of any type of legal weed in her state.

    • R. Summers

      I was raised in a police family , step farther, uncles, and grandfather were all cops….hell I wanted to be one when I was 10,11,12, years old…..I was an explorer, a wanna be cop….that all changed after I heard story after story of there dishonest, corrupt, unconditional acts…..that they would laugh about…..
      On August 14 I was raided for growing marijuana….. I had 52 plants….. 15 outside, the rest were young plants inside…..the reason I was growing so much was because I wanted enough to last me a couple of year’s until the law changes…..
      They stormed my house when I wasn’t even home… wife and 4 year old daughter were…..they where very unprofessional…. They made comments to my wife in front of my daughter about having my little girl taken away… she wakes up every night after bad dreams that masked men with large guns are going to come and take her away… wife knew nothing about any of it….I was trying to protect them ….the only woman in the raid was yelling that marijuana is so bad…..what a lie……oh yeah I’m disabled and have been since 2001 and in August of 2013 I was broadsided by an off duty new York cop here on vacation….. That’s another story about our dishonest police…..I was on life support for 5 day’s…. I almost died… doctor suggested going on pills for my pain…..I don’t like them….they cause serious mood swings, irritability, depression, the list goes on…..So for the first time in my life I was attempting to grow my own medicine….. I have no drug conviction on my record….I’m a 47 year old good citizen!!!!! I bother no one…..I’m very religious…. Love my family…. Smoking marijuana makes me a better person, it really does….helps me with my bad pain and helps me with depression….. And no bad side affects….
      Here’s the kicker…..I haven’t been arrested….. The police have 7 days to turn in states evidence by law, 25 days later I receive a copy of a letter that the state police are requesting an extension on turning in evidence!!!! That’s bull s#%$… We have too abide buy laws so should they!!!!!! Different rules and laws for them……I sent a copy to my lawyer…..he requested a copy of the affidavit from the state police and hasn’t received anything yet….that would show my accuser and what grounds they obtained the search warrant….. Real fishy……I’m not saying I wasn’t wrong….and I brought this on to my family and myself…..I’m very ashamed and embarrassed!!!!
      I’m sorry to all who read this for my actions…. I just want to be a good respectable citizen….
      Sincerely, Robert


    • Jimmy James

      When I first came to NH from MA, I thought this state was the best. Live Free or Die!? I have GOTTA live there! Finally, a state that stood for what I truly believed in. Unfortunately, that license plate was just a saying rather than an ideal. I am truly disappointed.
      Remove that from your plate NH! This state is full of hot air and rhetoric.

      Several states are leading the fight for those who cannot. I would move in a heartbeat if it were that easy. Politicians: do *not* think that this will go away, no matter how much you may hope, but do remember that you represent us and we will never, ever forget. Nor shall we lay down and die quietly, though it is clear that you wish we would.

      God forbid that someone who matters dearly to you should be in such discomfort, pain or agony – knowing that medicine, which could significantly raise their quality of life, was available but being withheld due to beliefs – and yet be treated like they were just “druggies, hippies and/or stoners” looking to merely “get high.”

      I am angry. I am in pain (yes, right now) and I AM willing to fight… and fight I will. We will not forget. We may die. But we will ALWAYS remember and continue the good fight. So help us God.

    • dave

      Toe in the water, do not worry the laws will advance. NH Recreational Marijuana by the end of 2015.

    • Doug Brockway

      NH DHHS, and others, don’t actually need the medical records. What they need is a near iron-clad method to identify, track and match each certification prior to/in the act of dispensing.

      They need this: It is, essentially, the same technology we use when we safely use an ATM or purchase something with a swipe of a card at a store; no special technology needed in dispensaries, easy to implement, very secure and accurate, allows those who should use the dispensary to do so in peace.

    • harry

      kill that chief of police, and get someone who believes in science, not incarceration only

      • Treebeardicus

        Stop the nonsensical talk jerk-face. No hate or threats. Grow up and handle it maturely. Or deal with being brought up on charges of criminal threatening a Police Officer. Are you stupid, retarded or just plain ignorant?

    • Jim Peterson

      what a bunch of crap this is so they put the cops in charge of this are they stoned or what

    • John Smith

      marry me katie

    • Perry Sloope

      I did not realize New Hampshire was such a backwards red neck state. Why did they bother to pass a medical pot law if they had no intention of implementing it? And appointing a police officer who was adamantly opposed to medical pot to the advisory council that was established to help implement the program, is just insane. The government in New Hampshire is either unbelievable incompetent or made up of predominately evil people.

      • Treebeardicus

        as a New Hampshire resident of over 35 years I am astonished, appalled, disheartened, saddened, angered and beside myself that the legislators have done this. Looks like I’m moving. And that is a crying shame.

    • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

      When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let’s have the compassion to allow them to have it.

      Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

      Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

      Support Medical Marijuana Now!

      “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

      “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

      “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

      “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

      “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

      “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

      “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

      • Jimmy James

        Don’t forget the oath (tried to spell the name of the oath but knew I had it spelled wrong :-/)

    • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

      Fear of Medical Marijuana Legalization is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever.

      So please, all prohibitionists, we beg you, give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Medical Marijuana a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

      Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of Medical Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

      The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol and definitely so much less dangerous than handfuls of deadly, toxic, man-made, highly addictive, narcotic pain pills and other pharmaceuticals .

      If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

      Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

      Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

    • concernedparentandtaxpayer

      It’s time for all of us to start doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. None of us would want our kids put in jail over a little marijuana. None of us would want the police to confiscate and sell our parents’ home because they grew a couple of plants to help with the aches and pains of growing old. Let’s start treating other people the way we would want to be treated.

      • Treebeardicus