N.H. House passes grow-your-own medical marijuana bill
A bill that would allow qualified patients and their caregivers to grow their own marijuana for medical use sailed through the House yesterday on a vote of 227-73 with no debate.
Under the bill, which now heads to the Senate, any person registered with the state to use medical marijuana would be allowed to grow their own if they live more than 30 miles from a dispensary. New Hampshire’s dispensaries have not yet been set up, and the bill would permit anyone who qualifies to grow marijuana until the sites open. Last month, the attorney general’s office advised the state not to issue identification cards required to use medical marijuana until the dispensaries open.
This home-grow bill places limits on how much marijuana a person or their caregiver can grow. They may cultivate and posses no more than 6 ounces of usable cannabis, one flowering plant, one nonflowering plant and six seedlings with a total canopy of no more than 48 square feet. Registered caregivers must be 21 years of age and would be subject to the same restrictions. A caregiver could grow marijuana for only one designated patient, according to the bill.
The grow-your-own component was part of the medical marijuana legislation that passed the House last year. But the Senate removed it after Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, said she would veto a bill that allowed for patients to grow their own marijuana. Hassan’s spokesman Marc Goldberg said yesterday that her position has not changed.
The bill also expands the medical marijuana law to include people suffering from epilepsy, lupus and Parkinson’s disease. Under the law passed last year, people with a variety of medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, HIV and multiple sclerosis may use medical marijuana.
Assisted suicide bill
A bill that would have allowed doctors to prescribe fatal medication to patients with terminal illnesses – known as assisted suicide or death with dignity – was defeated in the House yesterday by a margin of 219-66.
Rep. Joel Winters, a Nashua Democrat and the bill’s prime sponsor, told his colleagues there were significant checks in place to ensure the bill wouldn’t be abused. But opponents of the bill argued that it was flawed and ignored advances in palliative care, also known as pain management.
The bill had slim chance of being signed into law. Hassan vetoed a bill last year simply to study “end-of-life” decisions. Earlier yesterday, the House again passed a bill establishing a committee to explore the issue.
But Winters still implored his colleagues to pass the measure. Under the legislation, only terminal patients with unrelenting pain would be allowed to seek fatal medication from their doctors. To get it, they would need to make at least two written requests, witnessed by several people including a nonfamily member, to their doctor. The doctor would not be allowed to prescribe fatal medication if he or she suspected depression was the root cause of the request, Winters said.
“I believe individuals have a right, founded in the autonomy of a person, to control the decisions related to the rendering of their own medical care,” Winters said.
But Rep. Lenette Peterson, a Merrimack Republican, said the bill would make victims out of people with disabilities whose caregivers no longer want to take care of them. Other opponents asked what would happen to the fatal pills if the ill person chose not to take them and said doctors shouldn’t be asked to violate the Hippocratic oath.
“Doctors take an oath, and that oath does not include killing their patients,” Peterson said.
∎ The House passed a bill, 172-130, protecting future lottery winners from having their names disclosed without their permission. Currently, the lottery commission must release names and winnings upon written request from the media or a member of the public. The House’s vote overturned a recommendation by the Executive Departments and Administration Committee.
∎ A bill aimed at studying fiscal disparities between school districts also passed the House, 165-135. In 2011, disparities between school districts was taken out of the calculation for adequacy funding. Supporters said not all towns can afford to put the same amount of money toward schools, and a commission should be set up to study those differences.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)