State Senate OKs bill to improve local access to medical marijuana

Almost five years after New Hampshire passed its medical marijuana law, nearly 400 residents of Cheshire and Sullivan counties acquired cannabis under the program in 2017, according to state data. A bill that recently passed the N.H. Senate could shorten their travel times to and from dispensaries.

Senate Bill 388, which must go before the House to become law, authorizes the creation of two additional dispensaries, one of which would be in Cheshire or Sullivan counties.

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law, which has been in effect since 2013, legalized the use of cannabis for a limited number of medical conditions and with strict permitting. It authorized four dispensaries across the state, which ultimately led to the opening of dispensaries in Lebanon and Plymouth, both in Grafton County; Dover, in Strafford County; and Merrimack, in Hillsborough County.

In addition to a dispensary in Sullivan or Cheshire counties, the legislation would also establish a new dispensary in Carroll, Coos or Grafton counties.

The proposal could mean closer access to medical marijuana for hundreds of area residents; last year, 229 Cheshire County residents and 168 Sullivan County residents acquired medical marijuana through the state’s program, according to data from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

Initially, the bill would have covered the creation of one additional clinic in each of the four regions the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services designated for dispensaries. Later, the bill was altered to include just one additional clinic in Carroll, Coos or Grafton county, but N.H. Sen. Jay V. Kahn, D-Keene, introduced an amendment to include a second dispensary in Cheshire or Sullivan county.

He said Monday that a few constituents in Cheshire County told him the drive

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