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N.H. Senate rejects keno, home-grow option for medical marijuana

Senators moved through the calendar briskly yesterday, passing a bill to require four years of math in high school and killing bills to allow grow-your-own medical marijuana and establish keno.

Bills to better regulate charitable gambling and prepaid home heating oil contracts, give limited driving privileges to first-time DWI offenders and create a voluntary “hike safe” card to raise money for the Fish and Game Department were passed and sent to the Senate Finance Committee. There was little debate on the bills yesterday, as they will come back to the Senate floor later this session.

Senators also passed a bill to better protect medical professionals from lawsuits if they report someone as medically unfit to drive. That bill, supported by AARP, AAA and the New Hampshire Medical Society, now goes to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk.

The math bill requires all high school students to take four years’ worth of math-related courses to graduate. Three of those courses must be actual math courses, while the fourth can be an elective class that incorporates math skills.

“We have all become astutely aware of the importance of raising our students’ math standards,” said Sen. Molly Kelly, a Keene Democrat.

Senators voted 14-9 to send a bill adding a home-grow provision to the state’s medical marijuana law to interim study, which effectively kills it for the session. The bill would have allowed licensed patients to grow their own medical marijuana while they wait for the state’s dispensaries to open. After the dispensaries opened, only people who lived more than 30 miles from a dispensary would have been allowed to grow their own.

Members of the Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee did not want to add another burden to the state as it works to get the dispensaries up and running, said Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican.

Although the Senate is in favor of expanded gambling, senators killed a bill to allow keno in restaurants and bars, which sailed through the House. Another bill that creates new regulations for the state’s charitable gambling establishments was sent to a second committee without debate. A report from outside consultants last year found that New Hampshire’s charitable gambling system is one of the most unregulated in the country.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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