CONCORD, N.H. — The NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy today announced its support for HB 648, a bill that would protect seriously ill patients from arrest if their doctors recommend marijuana. The group also announced the launch of NHCompassion.org, a new Web site featuring New Hampshire patients, which will serve as a home base for the effort to pass medical marijuana legislation.
A poll conducted last April by Mason-Dixon Research, found that of New Hampshire voters, 71 percent supported “changing the law in New Hampshire to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to use and grow medical marijuana for personal use if their doctors recommend it.” Only 21 percent of voters said they opposed the reform, with 8 percent undecided. Details on the poll are available at NHCompassion.org.
The bill’s prime sponsor is Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), joined by co-sponsors Sen. John Gallus (R-Berlin), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), Rep. Tom Donovan (D-Claremont), Rep. James “Doc” Pilliod (R-Belmont), Rep. Trinka Russell (D-Stratham) and Rep. Don Petterson (D-Brentwood). An initial hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
A similar bill, HB 774, was narrowly rejected (186-177) by the House in 2007.
Please take a moment today to contact your elected officials and urge them to support SHB 648. A sample letter follows after the break.
SUBJECT: Please support our patients: Yes on House Bill 648
I’m writing to urge your support for House Bill 648.
This bill seeks to enact statewide legal protections shielding those seriously ill patients who use cannabis therapeutically with a doctor’s recommendation from criminal prosecution. At the same time, it will not alter or interfere with already existing state laws discouraging the non-medical, recreational use of marijuana.
The use of marijuana as medicine is a public health issue; it should not be part of the war on drugs. According to a recent national survey of U.S. physicians conducted for the American Society of Addiction Medicine, nearly half of all doctors with opinions support legalizing cannabis as a medicine. Some 80 state and national health care organizations, including the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association and The New England Journal of Medicine, support immediate, legal patient access to medical cannabis.
Most recently, the largest association of doctors of internal medicine and the second largest medical association in the country, the American College of Physicians, released a policy paper in support of medical cannabis, stating, “The ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.”
Thirteen states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have enacted laws protecting medical marijuana patients from state prosecution. These laws are operating primarily as lawmakers intended and have not led to widespread abuses among adolescents or adult recreational users.
I believe it is unconscionable to deny this effective medicine to sick and dying patients. I strongly urge you to support the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut and to vote ‘yes’ on HB 648.