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Lynch vows pot bill veto

Last modified: 4/25/2012 12:00:00 AM
Gov. John Lynch confirmed late yesterday that he will veto a medical marijuana bill if the House follows the Senate's lead and passes it today.

'Governor Lynch has long had concerns with legislation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana,' read a statement issued by spokesman James Richardson. 'While the Governor has compassion for people who believe marijuana could have medicinal benefits, he continues to have very strong concerns with (the bill).'

Lynch's main concerns, Richardson said, are the bill's 'lack of adequate controls on the distribution of marijuana, and the potential for proliferation.'

Lynch, who has said previously he would veto the bill, shared his decision with the bill's sponsors yesterday before releasing a statement.

The bill passed the Senate 13-11 a month ago and got the support of a House committee last week, which recommended 12-4 that it pass.

The full House is scheduled to consider the bill today.

Under Senate Bill 409, people diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition or their caretakers would be allowed to legally possess or cultivate up to six ounces of marijuana.

Lawmakers have heard at times emotional testimony from medical marijuana users, who have said marijuana is the only thing that provides them relief from chronic pain.

Lynch has opposed medicinal marijuana bills before. He vetoed a dispensary approach in 2009, citing concerns over proliferation and cultivation beyond the dispensaries, and another medical marijuana bill died last year in the Senate after he had promised a veto.

Under the bill that passed the Senate, patients would need a registry identification card, which would require written certification from their doctor that medical use of marijuana would help treat a debilitating medical condition.

That would require a patient to have a chronic or terminal disease from a predetermined list, coupled with severe symptoms or treatment side effects. Qualifying diseases and conditions include cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and Parkinson's.

Caretakers would also need to apply for a card and would undergo a criminal background check.

Card holders who provide marijuana to anyone not allowed to have it would have their cards revoked and face a Class B felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Additional penalties for illegal marijuana sales would also apply.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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