Pages tagged "New Hampshire"

  • NH set to become the next medical cannabis state, while MD considers yet another symbolic bill

    Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 573, by a voted of 286-64. The bill is expected to pass the Senate, which approved similar legislation last year. In fact, the year's bill will provide patients with greater access options, as they will be able to purchase medical cannabis from a state-regulated dispensary in addition to being able to cultivate their own medicine in an enclosed, locked facility. While last year's bill was vetoed by the previous governor (the veto fell just 2 shorts shy of being overridden),  it is expected that it will again pass the senate followed this time with the signature of newly elected Governor Maggie Hassan.

    ASA worked with NH state Representative Donald "Ted" Wright to help with language as the bill made its way through the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee, and commends the work of the committee and each of the legislators that voted in favor of the bill that will create true safe access in New Hampshire. Although the bill failed to included protections against housing, employment or education discrimination, HB 573 is a very patient friendly bill, and will provide access to patients living with any of a number of debilitating conditions. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about legislation that is about to pass the Maryland General Assembly.

    Late on Wednesday, it was announced that both the Maryland House Health and Government Affairs and Judiciary Committees approved HB 1101, a bill that would in theory create an access model where patients would obtain medicine from hospitals that are approved to conduct research on human subjects.  Earlier this month, Maryland was considering a true safe access, HB 302, which would have been created access through dispensaries and cultivation while providing patients with the strongest privacy protections in the nation. Instead, this system can only be described as a symbolic bill because even the state's own Department of Legislative Services (DLS) analysis said the likelihood that any facility is approximately "nonexistent." In fact, the state's analysis noted that;

    "Both the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) previously advised (with regards to a similar bill introduced in the 2012 legislative session) that they did not intend to participate in the program as academic medical centers. JHU and UMMS have confirmed that their intentions have not changed. It is unclear how many, if any, other institutions are eligible (and willing) to participate as
    academic medical centers under the bill."

    In other words, the state has no idea (or confidence for that matter) that there is a single facility in the state that will provide medical cannabis to patients with a qualifying condition. Even less friendly for patients is the fact physicians will not be able to write recommendations for conditions for which they have not been pre-approved to recommend. In fact, there is not a single debilitating medical condition that a patient in Maryland would be guaranteed access for under this law, bad news for Marylanders with rare conditions.

    Worse still, this completely unproven approach is anticipated to be a financial quagmire for the state.  The DLS analysis further states that,

    "Because participation in the program is expected to be low (or nonexistent)...DLS advises that the commission is not likely to be able to comply with the bill’s requirement to set its fees at a level sufficient to offset program costs (notwithstanding that some costs, including those associated with the required database, are the responsibility of DHMH rather than the commission) unless it sets its fees at a level that would likely be prohibitively high."

    In other words, if by some miracle, some eligible facility stepped forward to become a provider of medical cannabis, the state would be hemorrhaging money on the program. Regardless of whether a facility stepped forward, the state would still bear the expense of promulgating unimplementable regulations. Bottom line, Maryland is about to pass the expensive symbolic medical cannabis law in history.

    So there you have it. Neither Maryland nor New Hampshire are set to pass perfect medical cannabis bills in 2013, but the difference between them is night versus day. Or should I say, sickness vs. wellness.
  • New Hampshire native: Allow compassionate use in the Granite State

    Note from Steph - this is an open letter to the New Hampshire legislature urging them to overturn Governor Lynch's veto of a compassionate use bill.

    Dear Senators,

    Experience is something legislators rely on when making important decisions. Please consider my significant medical experience with Crohn’s disease, cancer and Social Security disability when voting on to overturn Governor Lynch’s veto of SB 409, the medical marijuana bill.

    I am a New Hampshire native, born in 1948 in Whitefield, where I had many fond memories growing up. During the summer of my junior year of high school in 1964, we moved to northern Massachusetts. Within months of moving to Massachusetts, I became an alcoholic at age 16. I was kicked off the basketball team during my senior year in my new town, for drinking. Arrests for “minor in possession, fighting, siphoning gas”, etc. followed.So, at the encouragement of my parents, I joined the Navy, where I scored well on exams and was assigned to an Admiral’s staff in Oakland. I kept an apartment in San Francisco and continued to drink.

    It was on a Navy base in 1967 when I first experienced marijuana, but mostly I drank and used the methamphetamine capsules that the corpsmen passed out to us in large bottles, if we requested it. Amongst those three, marijuana always seemed the least destructive, but I preferred booze. By the time I was thirty five in 1985; I finally surrendered to the disease and entered an alcohol treatment program in San Diego. Thankfully, it worked; I haven’t had a drink or drug to for non-medical use since 1985.

    Experiences - disease, tradition medicine, and medical marijuana

    In 1996, I moved to Santa Fe, NM, where I soon had another disease to contend with, Crohn’s. I was stricken with a vicious attack on my body which continued for the next ten years. Hideous side effects were common, including a perianal fistula and five skin cancer surgeries, including a stage two melanoma. The VA hospital assembled a tumor board of five specialists and operated on my face quickly - I am so grateful the care I received.

    Most of my doctors agree with me (at least off-record) that the melanoma was likely because my immune system was so compromised from the years of drugs, drugs that were designed to suppress it. My Crohn’s reached a level that I was visiting my toilet about thirty times a day/night, for about a year - approximately 10,950 bowel experiences in a year. For the second time since 1999, I had lost 50 -60 pounds in a matter of weeks.

    In 2005, I closed my business in Santa Fe and moved 150 miles north to Pagosa Springs, CO, trying to continue my RE career. My savings were becoming depleted and I couldn’t work effectively. I had to apply for Social Security Disability in 2008 – after dealing with a severe case of Crohn’s (four surgeries) since 1999 – it was quickly granted. Again, I am grateful for the care I received.

    Even if Recovering from Alcoholism, Medical Cannabis is Good Medicine

    I had lived (and suffered) in Colorado for three and a half years before I heard of the medical marijuana law. Nothing else had helped, but I was leery of trying it, because of my problems with addictions. AA teaches that any mind altering substance can trigger those addictive impulses. Nevertheless, I was desperate. I called a doctor and he was willing to sign for me to get a medical marijuana card.

    At that time the only source I knew of for the medicine was a shadowy guy in Durango, literally in an alleyway apartment. I put on my Depends and drove over there –scared of the police and what might happen to my 23 years of continuous sobriety. Medical marijuana was supposed to be legal, but it sure didn’t feel like it to me back then before Colorado dispensaries became actual stores instead of alleyways.

    I went home and medicated. The vapors immediately started to open some of the blockages in my intestinal tract and I knew there was some hope, for the first time in 11 years. The VA recommended removing my colon and rectum, leaving a pouch, just months earlier - I’m certainly glad that I didn’t allow it. Within three months I was able to wean myself off of prescription drugs and I knew that I was going to reclaim my life from this disease.

    My VA doctors were initially skeptical about my new therapy, but they had no better suggestions – now they are pleased that I’m no longer dying a slow death, at taxpayer expense.

    Sick Patients Need an Override, not Another Excuse

    You have a huge decision before you and I implore you, please don’t deprive sick people of the opportunity that I had. Instead, please focus on the documented facts of people who have been healed, or helped in seventeen states and DC. If you, as Senators, accept it as a medicine, then you have to allow accessibility. Please don’t tease a dying person and not deliver a reality for them, we are so close to bringing relief to those who need it. Please vote to overturn Governorn Lynch’s veto of SB 409.

    I come from a large blended Irish family (eight kids) of mostly conservative, successful people – but they are sure glad that I’m not dying anymore. Please consider us, when voting.

    Yearning to return to the state of my birth - to live free, not die.

    Bill Delany

    Bill Delany is the owner of Good Earth Meds, a dispensary in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
  • Will New Hampshire live up to its state motto by adopting compassionate use?

    Over the past twelve years, New Hampshire has attempted several times to legislate the usage of cannabis for medical purposes. A 2009 bill was vetoed by Governor John Lynch. From 2000 to 2007 there were four attempts but the measure did not pass the New Hampshire House. But yesterday's passage of SB 409 through the State Senate and House conference committee is a new opportunity.

    The New Hampshire state motto is “Live Free or Die,” however to those who live in New Hampshire and are sick, hurt and longing for a better quality of life, the state motto may feel like the “To Live or Die” state. But we can change that now.

    SB 409, the 2012 New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill sponsored by Republican Senator Jim Forsythe, differs from previous attempts. The language is different, the key politicians are different, the activism is different. In the end, will the result be same or is 2012 the year to achieve success?

    We think this may be the best chance we have!

    New Hampshire has the largest state legislature in the union with 400 House members and 24 Senators. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the legislature, but, perhaps ironically, medical marijuana has found great support among Republicans.

    Legislators who in the past voted against medical marijuana, such as Senator Jeb Bradley, Gary Lambert and Peter Bragdon, now support SB 409. Senator Bradley even publicly stated to New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association representative Richard Crate at the Senate hearing that their opposition to the issue, “does not reflect the fact that for some, medical marijuana works.”

    NH Compassion Executive Director Kirk McNeil and Matt Simon, a Marijuana Policy Project [9] Legislative Analyst, have been working alongside activists like me and other various groups to pass the bill. We built a broad coalition including NH Students for Sensible Drug Policy led by Jennifer Hall, NH Disabled American Veterans, NH Vets for Peace, and Americans for Safe Access, just to name a few.

    Patients, veterans and students bravely gave public testimony

    Over the past few months members of the public have testified at open public hearings on the effectiveness of medical marijuana in helping them battle disease and disability. The most dramatic and passionate testimony has come from New Hampshire veterans, many of whom have said without the ability to use cannabis for medical reasons, they and their families would have been destroyed. The one thing that frightens them and the main reason why they are speaking out is because in order to get medical marijuana, the patient must put their family members at risk to procure the medicine.

    Governor Lynch cites the federal ban on cannabis as listed on CSA schedule 1 - that cannabis has no accepted medicinal use - as the reason why he continues to oppose a compassionate use law. Well, with the Food and Drug Administration allows international companies like GW Pharmaceuticals in England to offer a phase III clinical study on human patients in the United States And of course there is the famous Compassionate Individual New Drug Program, the federal program that allows qualifying patients to use cannabis for palliative and therapeutic relief. Today there are only two surviving patients out of the initial 34 patients who receive 200 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes a month. One vocal program member, Irvin Rosenfeld, attended a press conference and met with legislators in Concord in May to discuss this program and support state efforts on SB 409.

    While our own federal government ignores these studies and continues to put sick patients, veterans and others behind bars for using or providing medical cannabis, our state legislators are attempting to help New Hampshire residents to have a better quality of life. Pharmaceuticals which have been prescribed by doctors and pushed by the “Big Pharma” can have unacceptable side affects or not work well for everyone. The opportunity to legally use cannabis for medical purposes is a chance to allow our sick the ability to be productive parents, husbands and wives - not to mention a healthier person.

    How can Governor Lynch continue to say he is the leader of New Hampshire, the original freedom-loving state, when he fails to lead in being compassionate to the sick? Do the special interests of big business, health care networks and others mean more to him than the ability for a NH veteran or a single mother of three to be healthier individuals using medical cannabis as an alternative medicine?

    Without compassion toward suffering patients who want to use medical cannabis, The “Live Free or Die” state is not practicing what the state motto preaches. Until the Governor changes his position, New Hampshire residents will just have to “Live or Die.” It is obvious over the past twelve years that New Hampshire has been walking down a road to legalize medical marijuana. With 71% of New Hampshire residents supporting safe access, how can the governor maintain his heartless position?

    If you live in New Hampshire, please contact Governor Lynch at 603-271-2121, or tweet at him @GovJohnLynch, and ask him to have compassion for patients and sign SB 409 into law.

    Gregory Pawlowski is a patient and advocate in New Hampshire.