Last week, committees in the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved three bills dealing with cannabis policy. Two of the bills would make modest but important improvements to the Therapeutic Cannabis law, and the other bill would legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older. All three bills are expected to pass the full House this week (see below for an update).
Here are more details on the three bills:
HB 610 passed the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee in a 20-0 vote. This bill would allow therapeutic cannabis certifications by any New Hampshire medical provider who is licensed to prescribe drugs to humans and possesses an active DEA registration. Many patients report that they have difficulty finding a provider who is knowledgeable about therapeutic cannabis. This bill would help by allowing a broader range of providers, including naturopathic doctors, to certify patients. The bill would also allow family practice providers who provide pediatric care to certify minor patients. Currently, two certifications are required for minor patients and one must be from a pediatrician, but this is problematic because many children are served by family practice providers rather than pediatricians.
HB 611 also passed the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee in a 20-0 vote. This bill would make it easier for patients to be certified with a “severe pain” diagnosis. If it passes, the current requirements that patients have “not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures” or that they have experienced “serious side effects” from other treatment options would be deleted. This is important because patients should not have to try opioids or surgeries before being certified for therapeutic cannabis.
HB 639 was amended by the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, which approved it in a 17-3 vote. As amended, the bill would legalize cannabis possession for adults 21 and older and authorize the Liquor Commission to regulate production and sales by private retailers. The bill no longer includes home cultivation, which is still part of another bill (HB 344). Here’s a summary of HB 639, as it currently stands. Although we are unhappy with some of the changes, we are pleased to report that the bill still prioritizes the needs of patients and does not threaten the ongoing viability of the Therapeutic Cannabis Program. We will continue to advocate for sensible improvements as the bill advances.
Several other bills are still pending in House committees. These include HB 82 (employment protections for registered patients), HB 431 (home cultivation for registered patients and caregivers), and HB 344 (home cultivation for adults). The House will vote on all these bills eventually, but not this week.
Thanks to all who have contacted representatives about cannabis policy. We will continue to share updates as they become available!
UPDATE: These bills all passed the House on February 22. HB 610 and HB 611 passed in voice votes. HB 639 passed 234-127 and will proceed to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.