The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a bill that would allow for the home cultivation of cannabis by medical marijuana patients. The measure, HB 364, will now head to the Senate after the House voted 259 to 120 to override the veto.
Earlier this year, the Senate approved HB 364 by a margin of 14 to 10. Two additional votes will be needed in the Senate to override the veto by the required two-thirds majority. The Senate is expected to vote on the veto on Thursday.
All home cannabis cultivation is currently a felony under New Hampshire law. Under HB 364, registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers would be allowed to possess up to three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings. The bipartisan and bicameral measure was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Renny Cushing and Republican Sen. John Reagan.
In the governor’s veto message, Sununu said that allowing home cultivation of cannabis would put a burden on law enforcement agencies in the state and compromise regulations to prevent the diversion of medical marijuana to the illegal market.
Activists Call on Senate to Follow Suit
Matt Simon, the New England political director for cannabis reform advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project said in a press release that overriding the governor’s veto of HB 364 will help ensure that medical marijuana patients can access their medicine affordably.
“It’s encouraging to see the House vote so strongly in favor of HB 364. This bill is critical for patients who are successfully using cannabis to stay off opioids, but are unable to afford the high-priced products that are available from dispensaries,” Simon said. “Sadly, 10 senators voted against HB 364 earlier this year, putting the preferences of a few police chiefs ahead of the needs of patients and their families.”
The Marijuana Policy Project noted in its release that two polls have shown that 68 percent of New Hampshire’s residents support legal medical marijuana and that all three states that border New Hampshire have already legalized home cultivation for patients, caregivers, and adults 21 and older.
“Residents of the ‘Live Free or Die’ State overwhelmingly support cannabis policy reforms, so it’s clear that any senator who opposes this simple step forward is incredibly out of touch with their constituents,” he said. “Patients, caregivers, and their advocates will be watching the Senate vote closely and hoping that common sense and compassion will finally prevail.”
New Hampshire legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in 2013. As of the end of last year, more than 7,000 residents had registered as patients in the state program. Currently, patients are only permitted to obtain medicinal cannabis at one of four licensed dispensaries, leading many to say that the cost and travel involved make it difficult to access their medicine.