New Hampshire Legislature Overrode Governor’s Veto of Medical Marijuana Bill

The New Hampshire Legislature overrode Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a medical marijuana bill. It passed in the State Senate 17-7 with bipartisan support, which was necessary to achieve the required two-thirds majority. The bill was one of the few vetoes the legislature was able to successfully override this year. 

The bill would have eliminated a three month waiting period between when potential patients start seeing a doctor, and when they can be prescribed medical cannabis. Sununu said his veto would “preserve responsible prescribing.”

Sen. Tom Sherman, D-NH, himself a doctor, pointed out that no such rule applies to opioid drugs that are prescribed freely and have far deadlier side effects than cannabis. In addition, he argued it would be a great dereliction of duty if a doctor waited so long to prescribe medication to a patient with a serious heart condition or a similar issue.

“What do we call that? We call that malpractice, and delay of care,” Sherman said. “We all need to override this veto because as a practicing physician, right now, to not do so means that we are not practicing appropriate medicine in these cases.”

According to Vote Smart, during 2018 gubernatorial run, Sununu received $7,000 from Pfizer which has come under fire for its role in fueling the opioid crisis, among others. He also received $5,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America (PHARMA), the group that lobbies on Big Pharma’s behalf. PHARMA is very protective of their member’s interests, and as such, is a perennial foe of regulating drugs and their exorbitant prices in the U.S.

In addition, a good government organization said his campaign was accepting donations from Limited Liability Partnerships, which is against state law.

Ultimately, Sununu has a mixed record overall on cannabis. He signed a bill that decriminalizes three-fourths of an ounce or less of cannabis, but remains firmly opposed to legalizing adult-use.

Legislators were eager to join its fellow states in New England and across the country in their growing acceptance of cannabis. They passed a number of pro-cannabis bills, and along with ending the waiting period, they sought to allow home grows; have physician’s assistants to prescribe medical marijuana; and authorize the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to establish more dispensaries.

Many Democrats are eager to fully legalize cannabis in the state as well, but that bill failed to reach a full vote in the State Senate. 

New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana in 2013 under then Gov. Maggie Hassan, and currently has 8,302 patients and four dispensaries in the program.

Emerald contributor since September 2019

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