New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana three years ago, and since then thousands have been able to find relief through medical cannabis where there was nothing else that has helped. Now the state will have the opportunity to consider multiple bills, all aimed at expanding access by putting additional medical conditions on the list of those that qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program.
The bills were introduced by State Representative Joseph Lachance as one of his final acts in the House of Representatives. If passed, they would add chronic pain, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder and opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. As a patient himself, Lachance knows just how big of a difference medical cannabis can make.
“I’m a disabled veteran,” said former state Rep. Joseph Lachance, R-Manchester. “I’ve been a cannabis card holder since 2015. Cannabis saved my life.”
Unfortunately, there will always be opposition when you look into allowing anyone to use marijuana – whether it is for medicinal purposes or not. In light of the bill looking to add opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions, there are many lawmakers who are opposed to it for specifically that reason – stating that there is not enough evidence that marijuana can help with recovery from opiate addiction (even though there has been at least one study done on the subject, and opiate use has significantly dropped in states that allow medical marijuana use for chronic pain).
“What I found interesting was the only people in the room that actually spoke not in favor of these bills had jobs that depended upon the addiction of opiates,” said Heather Mullins, of Antrim.
It’s unfortunate that there are so many restrictions standing between researchers and medical marijuana – it’s always a lack of evidence as the excuse for those people supporting the pharmaceutical industry or simply looking to keep medical marijuana access as restricted as possible. On the other hand, there are millions of people prepared to testify that medical marijuana is the reason they’re still alive – or the reason they have any quality of life at all – and at least some people are willing to take that into consideration.
“But the data is of what’s going on right now,” Lachance said. “People are testifying. They’re getting relief. It’s working. Our program’s working well for the state, and we want to enhance it.”
These bills have only just been introduced and will need to be voted on several times in the House and then in the Senate before they will ever be seen by the governor. However, we have to hope that enough lawmakers see the sense in expanding medical marijuana use. It’s unfortunate that so many still see it as a “gateway to other drugs” – especially when they try to use this as an excuse and scare tactic amidst an opioid crisis around the nation. Perhaps enough people will look at the data, and listen to patient testimony, and make the right decision in passing these bills to expand access to medical marijuana in New Hampshire.