New Hampshire Patients Plea to Keep Home Cultivation in Medical Marijuana Bill

CONCORD, NH — A former congressional candidate suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has posted a plea YouTube to New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, asking her to reconsider prohibiting medical marijuana patients to grow their own medicine.

“Let the patients grow their three plants,” says Hardy Macia, a former Libertarian candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd District. “It’s not going to affect the market share of marijuana on the market here in New Hampshire because people can get it regardless. Think about the people, think about the patients, ignore the police unions. You really need to do this for the state.”

Hardy Macia

Hardy Macia

Macia recorded the video from his hospital bed, where he is undergoing treatment for lymphoma.  He estimates that he only expects to live one or two more months, and is unlikely to see legal medical marijuana become a reality in his home state of New Hampshire.

A veto-proof majority of the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 286-64 in favor of House Bill 573 in March.  As adopted by the House, the medical marijuana bill would authorize five state licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, while allowing patients or their caregivers to grow up to three plants at home.

But when the Senate Committee on Health, Education & Human Services voted 5-0 Monday to recommend the Senate approve the bill, two key elements had been removed: the home cultivation of medical marijuana was eliminated, and PTSD was removed from the list of qualifying conditions.

Other changes to the bill reduced the number of authorized dispensaries allowed statewide from five to four, added a requirement that patients get written permission from a property owner before using medical marijuana on privately owned land, and eliminated protections for out of state medical marijuana patients traveling with marijuana in  New Hampshire.

The changes were made at the request of Gov. Maggie Hassan, who called several lawmakers last week to make clear she wouldn’t sign a medical marijuana bill with a home-grow provision, citing concerns about the state’s ability to regulate such operations.  Hassan prefers a dispensary-only option, similar to Massachusetts’ recently enacted law.

“The governor shares the concerns of law enforcement about the state’s ability to effectively regulate a home-grow option,’’ spokesman Marc Goldberg said in a statement in April.

As a state senator in 2009, Hassan voted in favor of a medical marijuana bill that included home cultivation, although the bill was later amended to a dispensary-centric model.  That bill passed in the legislature but was vetoed by former Governor John Lynch.

“Considering the time required for state-regulated dispensaries to be approved and opened, and the reality that many patients are likely to reside quite a distance from them if and when they are operational, NORML opposes removing this provision,” said the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws on their website. “We call upon Governor Hassan and the Senate lawmakers to retain limited home cultivation in HB 573 to ensure that patients have safe and easy access to their medicine.”

House Bill 573 co-sponsor Rep. Donald Wright and his wife, Cindy, who suffers from breast cancer. (change.org)

House Bill 573 co-sponsor Rep. Donald Wright and his wife, Cindy, who suffers from breast cancer. (change.org)

NORML is encouraging New Hampshire residents to contact their elected representatives.

“Please call your state Senator today and urge him/her to support the right of patients to cultivate their own medicine. After you have done so, please contact the Governor’s office and express your support for HB 573. Implore her that seriously ill patients can not wait years for for dispensaries to become available and require a home grow alernative. Tell Gov. Hassan to side with patients, not police.”

Change.org petition launched by one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright, calls for Gov. Hassan to allow New Hampshire patients to grow their own medicine.

Rep. Wright’s wife uses marijuana to help with nausea associated from treatment for breast cancer.

“We have no legal way of obtaining it,” Rep. Wight says.  ”That’s why, as a state legislator, I cosponsored HB 573.”