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New Hampshire "Medical Marijuana" Bill Fails to Overcome Governor's Veto

  • November 11, 2009

At least for now, New Hampshire has failed to become the 14th state in the nation to protect seriously ill patients from arrest for using medical marijuana if their doctor recommends it.  On October 28, the state Senate’s vote on the “medical marijuana” bill was 14-10, two votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override Governor John Lynch’s veto.  Earlier in the day, the state House had passed the measure 240-115. 

House Bill 648 would have legalized marijuana use and distribution for a medical basis.  The bill passed the House and Senate on June 24, but was vetoed by Governor Lynch on July 12, 2009.  “I understand and empathize with the advocates for allowing medical marijuana use in New Hampshire,” the Governor explained. “However, the fact remains that marijuana use for any purpose remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, if we are to allow its use in New Hampshire for medical purposes, we must ensure that we are implementing the right policy. We cannot set a lower bar for medical marijuana than we do for other controlled substances, and we cannot implement a law that has serious flaws,” said Lynch.  Critics of the bill argued that a provision prohibiting workplace discrimination against users would create a public safety issue for firefighters, police officers and others in similar positions.

This may not be the end of the effort to legalize the drug in the Granite State. Representative Evalyn Merrick, Democrat of Lancaster, said she would re-introduce the vetoed bill in the 2011 legislative session — perhaps believing that after next year’s election, the makeup of both chambers of the legislature would change in the measure’s favor.

We will follow developments on this measure.

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