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New Hampshire Senate passes medical marijuana bill

The New Hampshire Senate [official website] on Wednesday approved a bill [SB 409 text, PDF] to legalize medical marijuana [JURIST news archive]. The proposed law would allow the state to issue cards to patients with illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS and others. A prospective recipient of a card would be required to get consent from a doctor and undergo a full medical history to prove the existence of one of the stipulated conditions. The legislation would also require an ongoing doctor-patient relationship with the prescribing physician. The locations where the patient can use the drug would also be limited. The bill essentially would protect cardholders from prosecution, while allowing them to grow up to four marijuana plants in a secure location, under the control and oversight of the Department of Health and Human Services [official website]. One of the bill's co-sponsors in the House is Representative is Evalyn Merrick [official profile], a cancer survivor who sponsored a similar bill [HB 442 materials] in 2011. That legislation died in the Senate. Previous bills have also met with gubernatorial opposition. A 2009 bill passed both houses but was vetoed by the governor, and the Senate could not get enough votes to override the veto.

In 2010 New Jersey became the fourteenth US state to legalize medical marijuana. In November 2009 voters in Maine approved [JURIST report] an expansion [proposed legislation, PDF] of the state's existing medical marijuana laws, making Maine the fifth state to allow dispensaries, following California, Colorado, Rhode Island, and New Mexico. In October 2009 US Attorney General Eric Holder issued guidelines for a new policy [JURIST report] for investigating and prosecuting state-sanctioned medical marijuana use. Those guidelines reflect a pledge made by Holder in March 2009 to stop federal raids [JURIST report] on medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state laws. Ending such raids was one of President Barack Obama's campaign promises [Boston Globe report], a view that differed sharply from the policy of the Bush administration. However, earlier this month a federal judge ruled that medical marijuana providers were not exempt from prosecution [JURIST report] by federal authorities.

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