Pubdate: Thu, 26 Apr 2012
Source: Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
Copyright: 2012 The Union Leader Corp.
Note: Out-of-state letters are seldom published.
Author: Ted Siefer


CONCORD  The House voted by a wide margin Wednesday to pass a medical 
marijuana bill, but it still faces an uphill climb in the Senate in 
order to overcome a promised veto from Gov. John Lynch.

The House voted 236-96 in favor of Senate Bill 409, a margin of 
support sufficient to overcome a gubernatorial veto.

However, the Senate voted to pass the bill 13-11 last month, short of 
the three-fifths majority needed for an override.

The House vote sets up a possible replay of the last time the 
Legislature considered a medical marijuana bill, which was vetoed by 
Lynch in 2009. The House was able to override the veto, but the 
Senate came up three votes short. The prime sponsor of the latest 
legislation, Sen. Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford, said he was not giving up.

"We've gone from having one Senate Republican in support of this 
issue a few years ago to now having at least eight Senate Republicans 
. I believe three additional Senate votes are very possible, and 
it's a goal we'll be working very hard to achieve in the coming 
weeks," Forsythe said in a statement.

The bill went through several changes in an attempt to address 
concerns expressed by law enforcement officials and others who said 
it would lead to wider distribution and use of marijuana among the 
general population.

One of the bill's core features was that it would allow patients, or 
a designated caregiver, to cultivate their own marijuana, which was 
meant to avoid the problems associated with the dispensary system in 

The bill allows the patient or a registered caregiver to possess up 
to 6 ounces of marijuana or cultivate up to four plants within a 
locked and secured facility in a location known to law enforcement. A 
patient or caregiver would also be allowed to possess up to 2 ounces 
away from home.

Among the provisions in the 10-page bill is a list of "debilitating 
medical conditions" for which a physician can prescribe marijuana, 
including cancer, glaucoma, and HIV.

On Tuesday, Lynch announced that he would veto the medical marijuana bill.

"While the governor has compassion for people who believe marijuana 
could have medicinal benefits, he continues to have very strong 
concerns," a spokesman said, citing "a lack of adequate controls on 
the distribution of marijuana, and the potential for proliferation."

The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee, which will 
review the financial details of the legislation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom