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Medical Marijuana Sparks Up in New Hampshire

By Dan Gagnon; For The Clock
On October 6, 2016

Medical Marijuana Sparks Up in New Hampshire 

Dan Gannon

For The Clock

In 2013, New Hampshire joined the 25 states that have made marijuana legal for those who possess a medical marijuana card. In early 2016, the first medicinal marijuana facilities in the Granite State opened their doors for treatment. There are currently three dispensaries in the Granite State. One of which, Sanctuary ATC (Alternative Treatment Center,) has made Plymouth its home located on Tenney Mountain Highway.

The Union leader reported that Sanctuary ATC, along with two other dispensaries, were the only ones approved out of 14 applications to grow marijuana and operate a licensed dispensary. There are currently 150-registered medical marijuana patients with Sanctuary ATC, who suffer from a wide variety of illnesses ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

New Hampshire, unlike other states, is strict about regulating marijuana. Patients must be receive a medical ID card approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. As of July 8, 2016 New Hampshire’s state government, under RSA 126-X:I, VII(a) allows residents of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts, who possess a “written certification for the Therapeutic Use of Cannabis,” in addition to their patients who are residents of New Hampshire, may participate in the Medical Marijuana program of New Hampshire.

Patients, unlike in other states, such as California and the District of Colombia, are forbidden from growing marijuana at their dwellings, and are only allowed possession of up to two ounces of cannabis at a time every ten days. The Union Leader reported that “prices vary but an ounce was roughly $350.”

However, most patients are not looking for marijuana that is high in tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets you “high,” commonly used to treat chronic pain and depression. Instead, marijuana strains that are rich in Cannabinol, or CBD, another active ingredient in pot that does not get you “high,” are in high demand. CBD can help prevent seizures and, in intense cases, help the brain regain control over intense muscle spasms.

Rod Bascom, of New Hampshire’s Bureau of Health Facilities Administration and Licensing, is overseeing the operation. He stated that strains like Charlottes Web are common among patients for their high CBD content. He was also quoted saying “The Plymouth dispensary is more secure than any bank in this town… with cameras operating 24/7.” Those who do not possess a medical ID card are forbidden from stepping foot on the property.

Despite the reinforced security, many are hopeful that pot will cure their illnesses. For many, this is a safer alternative to using opiates and prescription painkillers, an ongoing epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives in this country. In New Hampshire alone, there will be a projected 494 deaths related to drug overdoses. Thousands more are struggling with opiate addiction each day. The Union leader covered the story of Patrick Murphy of Franklin, who suffers from chronic pain in his leg. “Opiates do nothing for me. All they do is make you need more and more and more of them until they aren’t any use anymore.”

This seemed to be the general consensus among patients, who hope one-day marijuana may replace the more addictive opiate painkillers doctors prescribe. Patients are paying the same price one would on the street for pot, but Bascom supports the regulated growing of pot stating “they know this is the safest, best grown brand of the product.” Some hope that New Hampshire will follow the lead of Colorado; legalizing the drug for all. Others are hesitant to allow the drug, still a schedule one narcotic under Federal Law, from being seen as medicine. What happens next is up to the voters and Congress, but as the Union Leader reported for Rachel Pouliot, she just hopes that “this will take the pain away. Nothing else helps.”

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