The State of Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire
2020 Grade: B+
2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations
Much as they did in 2019, efforts to secure passage of a measure authorizing patients to cultivate cannabis at home failed in New Hampshire this year, as did legislative efforts to authorize adult-use access. However New Hampshire lawmakers did organize COVID emergency measures that maintained operation of legal medical cannabis businesses, allowed patients to extend existing state program registrations before renewal is required, and authorized curbside pickup to reduce patient exposure to close contact.
As lawmakers look to 2021, ASA encourages consideration of legislation to expand patient legal protections to cover employment discrimination, delivery of medical cannabis to patients and authorization of patients to cultivate medicl cannabis at home to reduce costs to patients. Allowing patients to obtain multi-year registrations to participate in the state’s medical access program would also help reduce patient costs and reduce travel that can be burdensome on patient health.
In 2013, New Hampshire enacted HB 573, legislation authorizing a medical cannabis access model for Granite State patients. Under the law patients with qualifying conditions and caregivers registered with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ medical cannabis program, in possession of a registry ID card, who possess no more than two ounces of cannabis, are protected from arrest or prosecution. If charged, registration provides an affirmative defense for patients or caregivers in compliance with the law, and patients and caregivers may not be denied any right or privilege based on their status. HB 573 allows medical cannabis to be obtained by the patient, a registered caregiver, or in some cases a “support person” from one of the state’s Alternative Treatment Centers, and allows for up to two ounces to be purchased by patients every 10 days. New Hampshire patients may only designate one caregiver, but a caregiver may assist up to five patients.
In 2015, DHHS began issuing ID cards to eligible patients and licensing commercial cannabis businesses to participate in the state’s medical cannabis program. In 2016 dispensaries began serving patients. New Hampshire’s program saw several small but significant changes to its program in 2017. A change in regulations allowed a “support person” who is not necessarily a caregiver to enter a dispensary and obtain medicine for a qualifying patient. New Hampshire’s program also added chronic pain, PTSD, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Hepatitis C, and created a more effective petition process for adding new qualifying conditions. During 2018, the number of dispensaries in the state doubled and Governor Sununu created a medical cannabis oversight board. In 2019, the state removed the requirement that patients must have an existing three-month relationship with a medical provider prior to obtaining a recommendation for medical use of cannabis.
Surveyed patients report that prices are very high and dispensaries are too few and far between compared to other states. Other reported concerns include false product labeling of THC levels and inconsistent quality of products. Some surveyed patients would like to see the annual application fee for caregivers being waived, especially since caregivers report that they cannot charge for their services. They would also like to see online ordering and curbside pickup maintained in the future and delivery services added to the list of services offered.