CONCORD, N.H. (July 11, 2015) – Last week, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law that expands the state’s current medical marijuana program, further blocking in practice the federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by Rep. Stephen Schmidt (R-Wolfeboro) and five bipartisan co-sponsors, House Bill 476 (HB476) adds “epilepsy, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, [and] Alzheimer’s disease” to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in the state of New Hampshire.
The federal government doesn’t allow the use of marijuana – even if it’s for medical purposes authorized by state law. By expanding the number of people authorized to use the plant as a medical treatment in New Hampshire, this new law helps further thwart the deplorable federal ban in practice.
The bill was approved on Mar. 4 by the state House, and it was approved with amendments by the state Senate on May 14. After the House concurred with the amended version of the bill, HB476 was put on Gov. Hassan’s desk and officially signed into law on July 6.
As of right now, 17 states have decriminalized marijuana possession, 19 states have legalized it for medical use, and four states have fully legalized the plant for recreational use. All of this has happened in spite of the federal government’s laws to the contrary that are still in effect today.
Since FBI statistics show that approximately 99 of 100 arrests for marijuana are done under state and not federal law, states can take immediate action to effectively block federal attempts to keep the plant illegal. That is exactly what New Hampshire has done with HB476. The broadening of the medical marijuana law will make it even more difficult for the federal government to enforce its prohibition on marijuana.
Although the passage of HB476 does not mean an immediate end to legal restrictions against marijuana, it is still a great step in the right direction. The loosening of medical marijuana laws can lead the way toward more substantive reforms down the line. After the hysterical 'Reefer Madness' fantasies of the prohibitionists do not come to fruition, it is easier to make the argument for full legalization of the plant.
Activists should feel gratified that they have made it easier for medical patients to access one of the greatest healing substances known to man. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. Measures like HB476 help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!