Representative Jerry Kinerk of Freedom recently emailed a press release to 399 of his colleagues at State House, asking them to announce what the Medical Oversight Board on Therapeutic Cannabis has called a hearing.
The purpose of the session? With a curated question-and-answer forum, open to all, review the policies of pot in the Granite State, which legalized medical marijuana eight years ago.
Patients say they like the long-awaited sympathy. But they were obstacles.
“I got kind of a bad response, that cannabis is a horrible thing that destroys life,” Knirk, on Zoom, told participants. He didn’t reveal the name of the lawmaker he contacted directly, but you can bet that the more than twenty or so people who toyed with thoughts and fears Wednesday night totally disagreed with the words in that response.
The two-hour meeting – officially held at the Department of Health and Human Services – had a wide audience via Zoom that included patients, caregivers, service providers and members of the public.
Patients want to grow their own pot, and many other patients have complained that the list of diseases needed to qualify for a card here is too short, ignoring conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression. These diseases obtain a medical card in neighboring countries.
But not here.
“The headache is not in the application,” said Representative Susan Vail of Nashua. “I would like to see what we can do to reduce the stigma as we work through this legislative process on the bills that we have there. We have the space to do some really good things.”
Individuals like Nadine Houtat of Peterborough, a registered nurse in advanced practice, have watched patients’ reactions after passing the bad news to them.
“I have encountered patients who transitioned into a state where anxiety was a qualifying condition,” Hatat said. They have successfully used cannabis to help with anxiety and depression. I have to tell them I can’t qualify you to worry, which is a very disturbing experience.”
One participant, a bearded man identified only as Caleb, said New Hampshire was seen as “not good” in New England, both for reducing the number of diseases eligible for medical marijuana use, and for its intriguing ban on the cultivation of sick pot. Medicine, he calls the sick. Medicines they desperately need.
“We need to be able to produce our own medicines,” Caleb said. “I’ve heard that most of the problems from this program can be solved by growing at home. Quite simply.”
Your cultivation is cheaper. Many workers at seven major Alternative Therapy Centers (ATCs) in New Hampshire legally smoke themselves for pain management and relief.
They sympathize with the immobile patients. They say there are plenty of clients to walk around, and patients should have the option of purchasing from ATC or home cultivation, if they can master this complex process.
For people with cancer and many other diseases, home supply will be nearby during an emergency, to soothe pain, erase nausea, stimulate appetite, or induce sleep.
Compare these old laws, proponents say, to the laws of Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. You can grow there legally if your disease is on the list. Extensive list of New Hampshire.
In fact, adults can smoke there legally, ill or not. But that’s a debate – legalization – for another day.
For now, defenders of the advantages offered by fate continue to shake the walls of the state house, hoping that the granite state will adopt the mentality of its neighbors.
Even Matt Simon believes patients should be allowed to grow on their own, and he is director of public and government relations for major alternative treatment centers in New Hampshire.
He upgraded the Chichester Infirmary and another infirmary in Merrimack, among the seven infirmaries in the state.
It’s part of the state’s legal distribution system now, offers what it says are great products and hopes sales are fast. But its roots extend elsewhere, as deep as a pot plant, and elevate it to a visible role in the struggle to rewrite the laws of the pot here.
The talk began in 2009, four years before Governor Maggie Hassan finally signed a bill making medical marijuana legal. He lobbied the House of Representatives for change.
Ask him to comment on his seemingly conflicting roles — promoting his ATC outlets, while supporting the growth value of the home — and Simon leans sharply on one side, without hesitation.
“Does our bottom line help us?” Asked. “Okay, but we are in the process of providing services to patients and we are a non-profit. (Home farmers) have to be able to do that, and if they can do it better than we can, then go ahead.”
Simon noted that the laws in place are outdated and harsh, and the penalties are too severe for patients looking to find comfort at home.
He’s seen patients move to other states, unhappy with the policies here. They sent him pictures of their new gardens. They said they feel free, finally, explaining the joy to the individual in the “live free or die” state.
“When it comes to dispensaries, the mission is to serve patients, and these patients are not well served criminally,” Simon says. “Having patients to live in fear of law enforcement was central to this problem, and it should never have been a crime for patients who They are trying to take care of their medical needs.”
Simon saw it all, the arduous process through which New Hampshire tried to keep up with its neighbors in New England and other states across the country.
Former and current Governors John Lynch and then Chris Sununu veto legislation that would have legalized home farming. Elsewhere, the Senate blocked the bill, or, in 2009 and 13, used an amendment to remove the local provision, before the bill reached the governor’s office.
Do you approach a relaxed regime? One that allows residents to grow their own medicine pot, expands the list of eligible illnesses, or — wait for that — legalizes adult personal use in the comforts of their own home?
Representatives of the state’s three alternative treatment centers testified in support of HB 350 — making it legal to grow at home — last spring. Bedford’s chief of police, John Prevonsky, refused to agree and the measure was brought up in the Senate by a 15-9 vote, essentially removing it from consideration.
People argue that some ideas are outdated, and the old propaganda offered by movies like the classic “Reefer Madness” seems ridiculous today, with its depiction of pot smokers going crazy, killing, and hallucinating.
In fact, the 1936 movie, so serious and crazy in its presentation of the effects of fate on its users, is a satirical counter-punch these days for individuals who are still afraid of the long-term effect that fate is having on people.
“The ghost of Reefer Madness is still out there,” Knirk said. “So we will take this case seriously.”
To this response he received from a member of the House of Representatives, the one who said fate was “ruining life,” Knirk declined to name a name, saying, “It was a private email to me.”
Instead, Knirk remembered his thoughts when he read the letter, telling himself, “We are talking about therapeutic cannabis.”
“I really tried to educate this particular person,” Kinerk said. “I’m not sure I passed. He never responded.”