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Medical Marijuana Advocates Hopeful after Election

Our new Governor, Maggie Hassan, takes office next month and soon after should see a medical marijuana bill on her desk. At least, that’s what medical marijuana advocates hope.

There’s some justification. We’ve had bills pass both houses before, but our previous Governor wasn’t a fan. Hassan, however, voted for medical marijuana when she was in the legislature. Questions remain about just what sort of bill would pass though. There’s the question of whether patients should be allowed to grow their own or make cultivation a state licensed (or even state supplied) item. And then there is the matter of dispensing in an environment where marijuana, medical or not, is still illegal under federal law.

But with 18 states now having some form of medical marijuana on the books, the matter is much less controversial, and lawmakers have several other states’ examples they can adopt or reject.

According to reporting in the Union Leader, a spokesman for the Governor-elect said, “If appropriately regulated, with controlled and limited dispensing, Governor-elect Hassan supports allowing access to medical marijuana for patients." With this kind of messaging in the air, it’s no wonder advocates are happy. They may finally see medical marijuana in New Hampshire, after having witnessed laws pass as recently as this year’s election in Massachusetts and existing laws in Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont.

"We're very optimistic about finally passing it in 2013," said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project who has pushed for such a law in New Hampshire and was quoted in the Union Leader.

If it does make the legislative hurdle, expect a detailed law and regulatory system, as opposed to those states where ballot measures changed the legal landscape. With a ballot measure, lawmakers are often forced, in a limited time, to craft gap-filling regulations. By running a bill through our legislature instead, we get the chance to have the professionals take their time and do it right.

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