A bill that would have allowed ill New Hampshire residents to use medical marijuana was narrowly defeated Wednesday. The bill, HB 774, was killed on a 186-177 vote in the House.
Supporters of the bill argued that marijuana can be the only drug that works for patients with some conditions. Rep. Evelyn Merrick (D-Lancaster), who has suffered from cancer, said the treatments can be worse than the disease. "How many others must we allow to suffer needlessly?" she asked her colleagues.
But Rep. Joseph Miller (D-Durham), a retired doctor, and Rep. William Butynski (D-Hinsdale) scoffed at marijuana as medicine. "There is no such thing as medical marijuana," said Butynsk, who also worried aloud about allowing people to grow it.
Real medicine is injected, taken in pill form, or sprayed under the tongue -- not smoked -- said Miller. Besides, he added, it isn't needed. "We have ample therapeutic equivalents legally available," he said.
But while the arguments of opponents prevailed this year, chances are good that proponents of cannabis as medical will be back next year. Given the close vote this year and polling showing two-thirds support for medical marijuana in the state, the prospects are promising, said Stuart Cooper of the New Hampshire Marijuana Policy Initiative.
"This is sensible, compassionate legislation that protects our most vulnerable citizens," Cooper said in a statement after the vote. "But the close vote proves that it's only a matter of time before our elected officials give their constituents what they've asked for: an effective medical marijuana law that ensures nobody gets arrested just for battling life-threatening conditions."