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Medical Marijuana Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1209)
Politics & Advocacy

Lawmakers in the Granite State are dealing with a bevy of medical marijuana bills, a North Carolina Native American tribe opens the state's first dispensary, and more.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Lawmakers Take Up Batch of Medical Marijuana Bills. Even as the Senate ponders a House-passed marijuana legalization bill, lawmakers this week turned their attention to a bevy of medical marijuana bills, all of which have passed out of their chamber of origin and are now in the other chamber. None of the bills saw votes this week, but they all had hearings where testimony was taken.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on four bills: House Bill 1278, which would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition they think it will help; House Bill 1231, which would allow patients to grow up to three plants, three immature plants, and 12 seedlings for themselves; House Bill 1349; which would add generalized anxiety disorder to the state’s list of qualifying conditions; and House Bill 1581, which would expand where medical marijuana could be grown to include greenhouses.

The House Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 357, which would allow any provider who is licensed to prescribe drugs to humans to also recommend medical marijuana.

North Carolina

North Carolina Tribe Opens First Dispensary in State. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians held the grand opening of the state's first medical marijuana dispensary, the Great Smoky Cannabis Company, on 4/20. The event marked the first time marijuana could be legally purchased in the state.

Although the state has yet to legalize medical marijuana, the Eastern Band's tribal council voted in 2021 to allow medical marijuana within the boundaries of its reservation. Because the tribe is federally recognized as a sovereign nation, it is free to allow medical marijuana even though the state objects.

The objections extend to the state's federal congressional delegation. US Rep. Chuck Edwards (R) filed the "Stop Pot Act" (HR 5323), which would cut funding to entities legalizing marijuana. That bill is aimed directly at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, but it does not appear to be going anywhere. It has been sitting in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Highways and Transit since it was filed last September.

South Carolina

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Finally Gets Attention in House. The Senate months ago approved a medical marijuana bill from Sen. Tom Davis (R), Senate Bill 423, but it has ever since languished in the House. Until now. This week, the bill got a hearing in the House Medical Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee.

Time is tight, though. There are just three weeks left in the legislative session, and if the bill is amended in the House, it would have to go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

The bill would allow patients with a doctor's recommendation to obtain medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries but has no provision for patients to grow their own. Patients would be limited to those suffering from a list of specified medical conditions, as well as terminal illnesses and chronic diseases where opioids are the standard of care.

The usual suspects opposed the bill. Sheriff Duane Lewis of Berkeley County, representing the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association (SCSA), testified that marijuana is a gateway drug and that the proposed reform "would only exacerbate existing challenges and jeopardize safety."

But Lewis's predecessor, retired Chief Jeffrey Moore, strongly supported the bill, saying that it helped his son deal with alcohol abuse after serving in Iraq.

"Marijuana saved his life. I’m not going to talk about all the anecdotes of other people. I’m not going to talk about statistics," he said. Cannabis "gave him a relief from the nightmares -- the grief the constant tears gave him a chance to put his life back together."

No vote was taken, and the clock is ticking.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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