The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved a bill to allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own plants for personal use.
The measure—which would allow patients and designated caregivers to cultivate up to three mature plants, three immature plants and 12 seedlings—now heads to the Senate.
Plants would have to be grown in an “enclosed, locked space” at a location that would have to be reported to regulators at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The bill would also expand the number and types of plants that the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries could cultivate for patients, increasing the limit per patient to 80 mature plants, 160 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings. As it stands, the cap is 80 plants and 160 seedlings.
“This bill addresses two major problems for this community—access and price,” the majority report on the measure from the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee says. “The closest Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) may be far away and the cost of this product is high. Most therapeutic cannabis patients will continue to purchase their product from ATCs and those who choose to grow their own will be able to purchase seedlings from the ATC or grow from seeds according to their preference.”
Passed on a voice vote of the Consent Calendar – HB 431 – Therapeutic home-grow now moves to the Senate
— NH State Rep. Wendy E. N Thomas (@WendyENThomas) March 22, 2023
Matt Simon, director of public and government relations at Prime Alternative Treatment Centers of New Hampshire, told Marijuana Moment that by his count this is the 11th medical cannabis home grow bill to pass the House since 2009.
“Patients have been waiting far too long for home cultivation to become legal in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state,” he said. “Perhaps now that home grow has been legalized for patients and adults in every other New England state, this will finally be the year it becomes law in New Hampshire.”
(Disclosure: Simon supports Marijuana Moment’s work through a monthly pledge on Patreon.)
The floor vote on home grow comes about a week after the House approved a second cannabis legalization bill for the session, one that contains virtually no regulations or limitations on cannabis.
The chamber also separately passed a comprehensive legalization, taxation and regulation measure that’s being sponsored by bipartisan leaders last month.
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Now eyes are turned to the Senate to see what type of vehicle, if any, members ultimately decide to advance.
The commercial legalization bill from Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R) and Minority Leader Matthew Wilhelm (D) would be the preference of many advocates, as it would provide regulated access, generate tax revenue and support various agencies and programs in the state.
While the measure passed the House, it was then sent to the Ways & Means Committee, where it must advance and then go back to the floor before potentially being transmitted to the Senate. Members of that panel held a work session with state officials on Monday and plan to hold a vote on the measure, as well as any amendments, next week.
While there’s optimism about the prospects of legalization finally moving in the Granite State this year, advocates still have work cut out for them.
Republicans held on to the both the House and Senate after last year’s election, and the latter chamber is where marijuana reform has faced its toughest obstacles in past sessions even as the House has repeatedly approved legalization bills.
The Senate rejected two House-passed reform bills last year, including one that would have created a non-commercial cannabis program and another providing for commerce under a state-run model.
In the Senate, there were some shifts that favor reform, however. For example, a Democratic senator who opposed legalization efforts was replaced by a Republican who voted in favor of ending prohibition during his time as a House member.
Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who was reelected last year, remains opposed to legalization—but his more recent comments on the issue seem to show a softening of his position. He said during a debate last year that reform “could be inevitable,” but he added that states need to “be patient about how you do it.”
After the Senate rejected two reform bills last year, the House included legalization language as an amendment to separate criminal justice-related legislation—but that was also struck down in the opposite chamber.
The non-commercial legalization measure that was defeated had previously passed the House under Democratic control in 2020 but was defeated in the Senate at the committee stage.
Lawmakers also filed separate bills to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot, but the House rejected them.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.