New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a bill that would add new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program. The measure, House Bill 461, was introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives by Rep. Wendy Thomas.
If the bill succeeds, Lyme disease, insomnia, and anxiety would be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions. Thomas, who has a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis medicinally, told local media that amending the state’s medical marijuana statute will help patients, like her own family, who are living with these health issues.
“There are two places in the therapeutic cannabis program where they define qualifications,” Thomas said. “One is you have to have a medical diagnosis as well as a symptom. And so I’m putting all three of these conditions under standalone conditions, and the reason for that is Lyme disease has millions of symptoms. All six of my kids and I have Lyme disease and we all present differently. So there’s no one defining characteristic for that.”
Thomas believes that cannabis can be an effective treatment for these conditions, the causes and effects of which can vary widely.
“Insomnia, obviously the symptom is lack of sleep, but it can be due to hormones. It could be due to autoimmune disease. It could be due to stress,” she explained. “And the last one is generalized anxiety, which is different from PTSD, which is one of the qualifying standalone conditions. Generalized anxiety, I defined it as moderate to severe. And what I’m thinking about is people who have social anxiety that can’t leave their house, or even students who are at college that have a severe anxiety that causes them to not go to class, which would not allow them to go and take tests or things like that.”
Lawmaker and Cannabis Dispensary Employee
In addition to being a medical marijuana patient, Thomas works at a medicinal cannabis dispensary in Merrimack, New Hampshire. She said when her colleagues at the state capitol learn her background, she has seen “a few eyes widen a little bit.” But after the initial shock, some seek her out for more information. Thomas said that those conversations can change minds.
“I’ve had several lawmakers come up to me privately and say, ‘hey can I talk to you about that therapeutic cannabis program?’” said Thomas. “Because they’re older and they have the ideas that cannabis is bad for you. But there are also older and have body pains and aches that come with aging. And they’re hearing from somebody like me who it was reliable, and I show up and I do my work, and I do other jobs. Not only does it help, but it’s the reason that I’m here. It’s the reason I’m walking.”