How Medical Marijuana Works In New Hampshire

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For patients who have been buying marijuana illegally to relieve pain, improve appetite and alleviate other symptoms, it's been a long wait to come out of the shadows.

Lawmakers passed a therapeutic cannabis bill in June 2013, and Gov. Maggie Hassan signed it into law effective that July.

Since then, state health officials have had to create a program from scratch, draft regulations both for dispensaries and patients, review proposals for Alternative Treatment Centers, or ATCs, and work with the selected companies as their operations get up and running.

The way New Hampshire set up its program, patients must have "qualifying conditions" and specific symptoms to obtain Registry Identification Cards that allow them to purchase products at an ATC.

Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV, hepatitis C, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, ALS and Alzheimer's disease.

Qualifying symptoms include chemotherapy-induced anorexia, severe pain that has not responded to other treatments, constant or severe nausea, seizures and severe, persistent muscle spasms.

A patient must have at least a three-month relationship with a doctor before that doctor can certify that the individual has a qualifying medical condition and symptom.

Once the state approves an application, the patient or designated caregiver can take the registry card to one of four licensed ATCs in the state to purchase therapeutic cannabis products. ATC dispensaries will be located in Dover, Lebanon, Merrimack and Plymouth.

The state has received 741 applications from patients, 536 of which have been approved.

Only three applications have been denied, and about 200 are pending, according to John Martin, manager of the state Bureau of Licensing and Certification.

One remaining barrier to implementing the program fully, Martin said, is getting physicians on board. "You can't imagine how many calls we get from people who say, 'My doctor won't give me a certification, what do I do?'?"

Martin stressed that doctors are not writing prescriptions for cannabis; their role under the state law is to certify that their patients have one of the qualifying medical conditions and symptoms.



News Moderator: Robert Celt 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: How Medical Marijuana Works In New Hampshire
Author: Shawne K. Wickham
Contact: Union Leader
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Website: Union Leader