The governor of New Hampshire signed a bill that adds opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical marijuana program and also allows out-of-state patients to access dispensaries.
HB 605 was one of 30 pieces of legislation that Gov. Chris Sununu (R) approved on Tuesday. Advocates celebrated the move, though they’ve pointed out that there are some restrictions for both residents with opioid use disorder and visiting patients.
In order to qualify for medical cannabis for an opioid disorder, a patient must have a recommendation from a board certified addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry provider who’s “actively treating the patient” for that condition. They must also present with opioid withdrawal symptoms or cravings.
For out-of-state patients, they must have qualified for medical marijuana in their jurisdiction and show proof of a valid recommendation. It would be up to the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules for dispensary to verify visiting patients’ eligibility.
Also, there’s a provision of the bill stipulating that those visiting the state could not obtain cannabis from a dispensary “more than three times in a 12-month period,” unless they provide a statement from their health provider affirming that they have a condition that qualifies a person for medical marijuana under New Hampshire statute.
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Matt Simon, director of public and government relations at Prime Alternative Treatment Centers of New Hampshire, told Marijuana Moment that the governor’s signing the bill “is an important step forward for the therapeutic cannabis program in two ways.”
“First, patients who visit New Hampshire to spend time with family or to enjoy the lakes and mountains should not have to worry about how they will obtain safe, legal access to cannabis,” he said. “Second, the inclusion of opioid use disorder provides addiction specialists with an important tool that can help patients mitigate their withdrawal symptoms and stay off opioids. We are grateful to legislators and Gov. Sununu for making the therapeutic cannabis program more accessible to patients.”
While this action is viewed as a welcome step for the state’s medical cannabis program, advocates are still disappointed that the GOP-controlled legislature has stalled on adult-use marijuana legalization.
Three-in-four residents support the broad reform, according to recent polling, but lawmakers have failed to enact a policy change. A bipartisan bill to legalize recreational cannabis and set up a regulated licensing program for marijuana businesses did not advance out of committee after being introduced in January, for example.
Separately, a New Hampshire Senate committee in March heard testimony on a House-passed bill to allow medical marijuana patients to grow a limited number of plants for personal use. But it was ultimately tabled in the full chamber.
In May, the governor also signed a bill adding insomnia and autism spectrum disorder as medical cannabis qualifying conditions.
Earlier this year, the House passed legislation to let medical cannabis patients grow their own medicine, but it did not clear the Senate.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.