By Phillip Smith
Medical marijuana bills are moving in New England. On Wednesday, a Connecticut joint committee approved a bill there, and on Thursday, a New Hampshire Senate committee approved one there.
In Connecticut, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary voted 35-8 to approve House Bill 5389, which would create a system for licensing producers and distributors. The bill would also allow patients or their primary caregivers to possess an amount reasonably necessary for a one-month supply. What is "reasonably necessary" would be determined by the Department of Consumer Protection after the bill becomes law.
Although some legislators raised concerns about possible conflicts with federal law, Connecticut voters don't seem to share those concerns. A Quinnipiac University poll released the same day as the committee vote showed that 68% supported the medical marijuana bill, with only 27% opposed.
In New Hampshire, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved Senate Bill 409 on a unanimous 5-0 vote. The vote came after a 2 Â½ hour public hearing earlier this month.
The bill would allow patients or caregivers to possess up to six ounces of marijuana and "an amount of usable marijuana from up to six plants." It would also create a patient registry, but not a distribution system.
"If a seriously ill patient and his or her doctor believe marijuana may be the best option, government should not interfere with that decision, and I’m very pleased to see unanimous agreement from this committee," said the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford).
"This vote will bring hope to New Hampshire patients who shouldn’t have to wait any longer for safe, legal access," said Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Matt Simon, who has been working the state house. "The committee appears to understand that these laws are not causing problems in states such as Vermont and Maine, or surely we would hear about them here in New Hampshire."