In a disappointing but expected move yesterday, New Hampshire governor John Lynch vetoed a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state. Lynch had vetoed a similar medical marijuana bill back in 2009.
This new bill, SB 409, would have allowed people with serious illness to get a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana so they can then register with the state. From Governor Lynch’s office explaining why he issued his veto:
SB 409 authorizes a patient to cultivate and transport up to 6 ounces of marijuana at any given time, and to possess for their use up to 2 ounces of marijuana at any point in time. While the bill requires the patient to obtain a written certification from a physician attesting to their qualifying medical condition before the patient is eligible to obtain a registry card authorizing medicinal marijuana use, the bill does not contemplate any medical guidance by the certifying physician concerning the amount or frequency of marijuana use. This is a significant difference from the prescription and use of any other controlled drug, where the patient is given specific medical guidance on how much of a drug to take and how often to take it.
Given that there are many types of marijuana with different degrees of potency, I am concerned that the absence of restrictions on the amount and frequency of use of marijuana combined with the amounts allowed under the bill for possession could pose significant health dangers.
There is still chance that the bill could become law this year despite the veto. The state legislature can override the veto with a 2/3rd vote in both chambers. While in the House of Representatives the law should easily clear that threshold, it should face a more difficult time in the state Senate.
Fortunately, Gov Lynch is not seeking another term this year and there is a strong chance that the next governor will be more supportive of medical marijuana. The two top Democrats in the primary, Jackie Cilley and Maggie Hassan, both voted for the medical marijuana bill in 2009, which was eventually vetoed by Lynch.