It might be hard to believe that it has been five whole years since New Hampshire approved therapeutic cannabis (not “medical marijuana,” please) but here’s your evidence: We’re discussing the subject at Science Cafe NH in Concord tonight and I feel no need to mention Doritos.
Munchies jokes were an obligatory part of any conversation about pot for those who grew up in the Cheech & Chong era, but things have changed. Although cannabis hasn’t entered the health care mainstream – hence the term “therapeutic” rather than the more specific “medical” – it is a lot closer than it used to be and we’ve certainly moved past the giggly-stoner phase.
Tonight’s giggle-free conversion at Science Cafe New Hampshire will have representatives from two of the state’s four Alternative Therapy Centers – those in Merrimack and Hanover.
ATCs are the places that actually sell cannabis and marijuana to patients who bring in a note from a doctor confirming that they have one of the qualifying ailments. Four ATCs opened in 2016, and Gov. Chris Sununu recently signed a bill into law that allows two more to open.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said in a report last year that nearly 5,000 patients have used therapeutic cannabis, but that number is likely to grow sharply. The increase will come partly from more ATCs, partly from the Legislature’s expansion of the ailments that justify the use of cannabis, and partly from dealing with the opioid crisis, because in some cases cannabis is an effective alternative to opioids for dealing with pain.
The ATCs are building up a chunk of real-world experience that we can quiz them about: What sort of people are coming in as patients, what medical issues do they have, what obstacles have they faced in getting access, how are attitudes changing or not changing, what types and strengths of cannabis and other marijuana-related chemicals are being used, etc.
The session will also feature UNH Professor Karen Van Gundy, co-author of Marijuana: Examining the Facts, to provide some more context.
By the way, Van Gundy and a representative from the Prime Alternative Center were on the Science Cafe NH panel in Nashua last month. Make sure to bring some good questions tonight so we aren’t upstaged by our southern colleagues.
As always, Science Cafe NH in Concord is free and open to all. It starts at 6 p.m. upstairs at The Draft Sports Bar, 67 S. Main St. Come early if you want a good seat.