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New Hampshire Senate Debates New Bills Aiming to Relax Medical Marijuana Regulations

Another bill would make low-level marijuana possession a violation, not a crime.

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The New Hampshire state Senate is considering several bills that would relax or expand the state's medical marijuana regulations. One bill would allow anyone authorized to use medical marijuana to grow their own cannabis plants. Other bills up for consideration would add PTSD and chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions for MMJ. These bills all passed the House last month with strong support.

This week, state Senate committees held public hearings to hear testimony from individuals who have been helped by medical marijuana. Several people testified about how marijuana helped them deal with traumatic stress, allowed them to go back to work after an injury, or even become better parents. State Rep. Jerry Knirk, a retired spinal surgeon, also testified in support of the bills, citing new research showing that marijuana may be more effective than opioids in treating chronic pain.

Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project also testified, telling legislators that patients battling health issues will self-medicate with illegal marijuana if they are not allowed legal access. “Do we want people who could qualify under this diagnosis to be protected from arrest, do we want them to have safe, legal access through dispensaries, or do we want them, if they do choose to use cannabis, to have to buy it from the illicit market?” he asked lawmakers.

In addition to these medical marijuana bills, the Senate is considering another bill that would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a violation, rather than a crime. The bill passed the House with an overwhelming majority, and Gov. Chris Sununu has said he would sign it into law. The governor does not, however, support the bill that would allow MMJ patients to grow their own weed at home.