Marijuana Bill Shot Down In State Senate for New Hampshire

By chillinwill · Oct 31, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    The state Senate voted Wednesday against overriding Governor Lynch's veto of a bill that would have legalized the use of medical marijuana by severely ill patients whose doctors recommend the drug.

    After being passed in the House by a margin of 240-115, the effort to override the veto came to an end in the Senate, where the override fell short by just two votes.

    If passed, the override would have made New Hampshire. the 14th state in the country to legalize marijuana use for severely ill patients.

    The bill, which Governor Lynch vetoed due to concerns over the bill's proposed plans for cultivation and distribution of the drug, would have allowed for the creation of three to five "compassion centers" that would have distributed marijuana to qualifying patients.

    According to Executive Director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy Matt Simon, who had been working closely with patients to support the override, supporters of the override knew it would be hard for it to pass in the Senate.

    "We were confident we were going to win in the House," Simon said. "But we also knew it would be a tall order to get two senators to change their minds... I had hoped the senators would put politics aside and do the right thing, but in the end that didn't happen."

    Simon also said that while the outcome of the vote was not necessarily surprising, for him and the medical marijuana users he worked with to support the override, it was a huge disappointment.

    "I had to make several very difficult phone calls to patients who had been very hopeful," Simon said. "It was very disappointing."

    Still, Simon said it is impossible for him to look back and not see that progress on the issue of medical marijuana was made.

    "A lot of people really came around and learned a lot," Simon said.

    Simon also said that he is certain that New Hampshire will eventually have a law legalizing the use of medical marijuana.

    "I am very confident that it will happen but just not this year," Simon said. "We're going to continue working until New Hampshire allows medical marijuana."

    Danielle Curtis
    October 30, 2009
    The New Hampshire

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  1. chillinwill
    A Better Bill for the Legalization of Marijuana Can Be Crafted

    Gov. John Lynch's veto of the medical marijuana bill fell short of an override in the Senate this week. It was just as well. Now the Legislature and the governor can revisit the measure and come up with something that better represents the interests of the people of New Hampshire.

    Lynch took issue with the wording of the measure, citing concerns over distribution and cultivation. He also objected to the bill not clearly restricting marijuana use to people suffering severe pain, seizures or nausea.

    The governor's route was one of caution; to do what is reasonable to reduce the chances of abuse and to provide adequate safeguards against illegal distribution and abuse of the drug.

    Pain is something humankind has been made to bear for as long as it has been on the planet. There are any number of diseases or conditions that cause us pain. When it becomes too great to bear, we are able to turn prescribed and controlled medications for relief.

    Opponents of the failed marijuana bill don't want us to endure pain, either as a chronic part of lives or as the end of lives draws near. What responsible opponents of the failed measure want are adequate controls, steps that will lessen the abusive use of marijuana and the threat of it being a widespread recreational substance.

    The Senate voted 14-10 Wednesday in favor of an override, but it would have taken 16 votes to reach the two-thirds necessary to get past the governor's veto. Earlier in the day, the House of Representatives voted 240-115 to pass the bill over Lynch's objections.

    We can't say we are pleased with the Senate vote. We had hoped there would have been fewer senators voting for the measure than what was the outcome. But even small victories present opportunities for something better.

    Supporters of the marijuana bill are expected to refile the measure in the 2011 session, anticipating the 2010 elections will change the makeup of the Legislature.

    Change there might be, but will it be the kind of change advocates of legalizing marijuana are seeking?

    We understand the compassion supporters of the failed bill seek to provide.

    New Hampshire missed becoming the 14th state to legalize the use of marijuana by a narrow margin.

    Breathing room was provided. Now, maybe the smoke can be cleared.

    Is there a place for marijuana in providing legitimate relief for people suffering chronic or terminal illness? Possibly so -- even probably so. But let's be sure we understand what we are doing before we do it.

    There is a lot of work to be done in an effort to modify the attempt to legalize the use of marijuana. It should go without saying that lawmakers ought to work with Lynch or whomever is elected governor next year to come up with a law that will serve people suffering acute and chronic pain and the people as a whole -- a law containing adequate safeguards for patients and public.

    Let's avoid becoming trapped in a haze of wanting to do what is the compassionate thing just for the sake of doing something that will make us feel good.

    Let's be sure we are not relieving one level of pain only to cause a greater social one.

    October 30, 2009
  2. everytingirie
    It seems rather sad that more isn't getting accomplished in New Hampshire. Their governor and a few other extremely conservative congresspeople seem to be largely to blame. I'm sure a lot of people are quite upset there...
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