Just as in Minnesota earlier this year – the People support and the Senate passes a decent medical marijuana bill, then the Assembly/House hacks away at the bill, citing concerns that the governor who opposes medical marijuana will veto it. (UPDATE: Paul Armentano reminds me that in Minnesota and New Hampshire, both the House and Senate passed the good bill, then under governor’s threat combined to hack away at it in conference committee. I apologize for the implication – but the point still holds. — “R”R)
- They take away the essential patients’ right to grow their own medicine at home, because the governor complains about possible diversion of medical marijuana to the black market.
- They set limits so low few patients would have satisfactory access (2 ounces).
- They force patients to buy cannabis at black-market drug-dealer prices in a state-limited monopoly of non-profit “compassion centers” (because we can’t say the scary “d” word – “dispensaries”).
- They set onerous restrictions on purchases, tracking them in a database so patients can’t buy too often (every 10 days).
- They require criminal background checks and FBI fingerprinting of caregivers, who cannot be patients themselves nor ever convicted of a drug crime (like growing and possessing marijuana for their patient before there was a medical marijuana law).
So the Assembly legislature, backed by certain marijuana policy advocates, hacks away at the bill to soothe the governor’s fears, gives him all he could ask for and then some… and he vetoes the bill anyway.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Citing cultivation and distribution concerns, Gov. John Lynch has vetoed legislation that would have made New Hampshire the 14th state to legalize marijuana use by severely ill people.
Lynch had been critical of the bill from the start, but lawmakers made extensive changes in hopes of answering his concerns.
The bill would have established nonprofit compassion centers to dispense 2 ounces of marijuana every 10 days to severely ill patients. The state would have licensed the centers and issue identification cards to their staff, approved patients and their caregivers.
The bill passed the House 232-108 and the Senate, 14-10. Depending on attendance, the House may have the two-thirds support to override, but supporters need two more votes in the Senate.
If the governor is going to veto a bill anyway, why compromise? Medical marijuana is enormously popular with the people. After if gets by the Senate 14-10, if you leave the bill alone and test it in the House, maybe it doesn’t pass, but maybe it gets through with a lower vote, like 171-169. Then the governor vetoes it anyway… but at least you wouldn’t be setting a precedent for statehouses across the country to take away essential patients’ rights! What’s the plan for next year, present a bill that only lets one terminal cancer patient named Chet smoke <5% THC medical marijuana only between 2am-4am if he’s chained to a radiator in a locked basement closet?
After a dozen years and thirteen states, medical marijuana bills should be getting better, not worse. If we’re going to make a project out of setting medical marijuana policy, we shouldn’t be blackmailed by compassion to support bills that create 2nd-class patients more tightly regulated than Oxycontin patients. These bills lately treat patients as just barely above criminals, bound to commit marijuana crimes unless they’re watched like parolees.
Now the third state in this round, New Jersey, is set to replay the same chorus, only this time with a governor who will sign the bill. Again, I can never oppose a medical marijuana bill – how can I suggest a cancer patient should have to hit the streets for a dealer rather than a dispensary? – but I can strongly and loudly oppose the strategy of the project that puts forth these restrictive bills. Once New Jersey passes the bill, that will set the bar for these other timid states to pass the same type of legislation, locking large portions of America into dispensary monopolies and handing absolute control over quality, diversity, and price from the patient to the middleman.