Becoming a Patient in New Hampshire

Summary of the Law

Patients and caregivers registered with the New Hampshire Department of Health’s medical cannabis program are protected from arrest or prosecution and may not be denied any right or privilege on the basis of their status. If charged, registration provides an affirmative defense for patients or caregivers provided they were in possession of cannabis in a quantity and at a location permitted by the law.

What's Legal

To be protected under the law, patients and caregivers must be registered with the Rhode Island Department of Health and in possession of a registry ID card. Qualifying patients registered with the program will be allowed to possess up to two (2) ounces of cannabis. Possession of cannabis by a registered patient not in possession of the issued ID card is subject to a fine of $100. No cultivation of cannabis is allowed. Medicine must be obtained by the patient or registered caregiver from one of four “Alternative Treatment Centers” to be licensed by the state to dispense cannabis to patients. The law requires the Department of Health to issue rules for licensing dispensing centers by January 2014 and to issue licenses to two centers by January 2015. A patient may designate on ly one caregiver, but a caregiver may assist up to five (5) patients. Caregivers are limited to transporting medicine from licensed centers and assisting with administration. Until Rhode Island begins issuing registry ID cards, there are no legal protections for patients or caregivers.

Eligible Conditions

  • Cancer,
  • glaucoma,
  • positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),
  • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS),
  • hepatitis C currently receiving antiviral treatment,
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease),
  • muscular dystrophy,
  • Crohn’s disease,
  • agitation of Alzheimer’s disease,
  • multiple sclerosis,
  • chronic pancreatitis,
  • spinal cord injury or disease,
  • traumatic brain injury, or
  • one or more injuries that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s physician.

Also qualifying are any severely debilitating or terminal medical conditions or their treatment that has produced at least one of the following:

  • elevated intraocular pressure,
  • cachexia,
  • chemotherapy-induced anorexia,
  • wasting syndrome,
  • severe pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects,
  • constant or severe nausea,
  • moderate to severe vomiting,
  • seizures, or
  • severe, persistent muscle spasms.

Additionally, the department may include, on a case by case basis, any condition determined to be severely debilitating or terminal, based upon the written request of the patient’s recommending physician.

Application Process

The Department of Health will establish a registration process but has not done so as of September 2013. You must be a current New Hampshire resident to be eligible and have written certification of a diagnosis of one of the qualifying conditions from a medical provider with whom you have an ongoing patient-provider relationship at least three months long. Once the application process is established, the department is to issue your registry ID card within five (5) days of approving your application or renewal. Registration expires after one year, unless your medical provider has indicated a shorter period of time for cannabis therapy.

The registry ID cards will contain your name, address and birth date; a passport-sized photo; a random 10-digit registration number; and the identification of the designated Alternative Treatment Center from which you will obtain your medicine.

Renewals

You need to update your registration every year.

Registry Card Changes

Once registered, if there is a change in your name or address, you must notify the department within ten (10) days. Failure to notify can result in a fine up to $150. You must notify the department in advance of any change of designated caregiver or Alternative Treatment Center.

If you lose your registry card, you must notify the department within ten (10) days. A new card will be issued within five (5) days of notice for a fee yet to be determined.

Medical Provider

Your certifying medical provider must be licensed to prescribe medication and have an established relationship with you of at least three months in duration. Your medical provider can only recommend medical cannabis after an in-person exam, a history, a diagnosis, and a treatment plan appropriate to his or her specialty.

Caregivers

You may designate a single caregiver to assist you with obtaining and using medical marijuana. Your designated caregiver must be at least twenty-one (21) years old and cannot have a felony drug-related conviction. A registered caregiver with a valid registry ID card may assist with up to five (5) qualifying patients. If both the caregiver and qualifying patients live more than 50 miles from an “alternative treatment center” licensed to dispense medical cannabis, the designated caregiver may assist up to nine (9) patients.

Obtaining Cannabis for Qualified Patients

Medical cannabis patients in New Hampshire are required to obtain their medicine from licensed Alternative Treatment Centers. Cultivation is prohibited. Two Alternative Treatment Centers are to be licensed by January 2015.

Consumption

Patients are expressly forbidden to smoke cannabis in public areas, on school grounds, or in correctional, law enforcement, or recreational facilities.

Age Limits

If you are under 18 years of age, you must designate a custodial parent or legal guardian who is responsible for your health care decisions as your primary caregiver. That person must submit the application on your behalf as well as sign a written consent and agree to responsibility for your acquisition and use of medical cannabis.  and submit written certification from two medical providers, one of whom must be a pediatrician.

Confidentiality

Applications and supporting information is considered confidential and is not to be disclosed to anyone who is not an authorized employee of the department in the course of official duties or local or state law enforcement who have detained or arrested a registered patient or caregiver. If law enforcement submits a sworn affidavit alleging violations by an individual or at a location, the department will verify if the individual or location is registered.

Insurance

New Hampshire's medical marijuana law does not require a governmental, private, or any other health insurance provider or health care service plan to be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana.

Out of State Patients

Non-resident patients with state-issued IDs from other states are entitled to protection under New Hampshire law but are prohibited from purchasing cannabis from an Alternative Treatment Center or a registered New Hampshire patient or caregiver.