By Steve Elliott
A bill to allow New Hampshire residents with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana moved one step closer to becoming law on Thursday when it was approved 14-1 by the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. House Bill 573 will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), would allow seriously ill patients to use medicinal cannabis if their doctors recommend it. Patients would be allowed to grow up to three mature marijuana plants in their homes, or obtain cannabis through one of five nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan has expressed support for passing medical marijuana legislation. A similar medical marijuana bill that passed with bipartisan support last session was vetoed by then-Governor John Lynch.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Patrick Culbert (R-Pelham) made an emotional plea to his colleagues, sharing his experience caring for his wife, Judy, as she slowly died of cancer. He recounted how she found relief from her "agonizing" symptoms the one time she tried using medical marijuana -- but did not use it again, because she feared being arrested.
"People like Judy shouldn't have to die like that," Rep. Culbert said. "She should have died with dignity and she didn't."