After less than a year since becoming operational, New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program is helping bring relief to over 2,000 patients.
New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program, operational since April 30, 2016, now serves more than 2,000 patients, the Concord Monitor reports. Data from the state Health and Human Services Department shows that the state’s youngest qualifying patient is just 2 years old, while the oldest patient registered is 98.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed House Bill 573 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes on July 23, 2013, but the rollout of the program was plagued with delays. It wasn’t until November 2015 that the Department of Health and Human Services began allowing patients to register for identification cards and the first dispensary didn’t open until April of last year.
Since becoming operational, however, New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program has grown steadily, according to administrative rules coordinator Mike Holt.
“There does not seem to be any slowdown for the number of people that are applying to the program,” Holt told the Concord Monitor. “The new applications are a steady stream.”
Under New Hampshire’s comprehensive medical marijuana law, qualified patients that have obtained a written certification from a licensed physician or advanced practice registered nurse are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana. The law does allow minors with qualifying medical conditions to use therapeutic cannabis and the state currently has four children – ages 2, 4, 5, and 11 — participating in the program.
A majority of the 2,089 patients currently registered with the program were found to be using cannabis to treat one or more injuries (748), spinal cord injury or disease (662), cancer (345), or multiple sclerosis (184). A total of 1,565 of the patients are using medical marijuana to treat severe pain that has not responded to other treatments.
Somewhat of an issue remains for the otherwise blooming program: a lack of medical professionals that are open to recommending medicinal cannabis to their patients.
“Still, the number one call we get from patients is that their doctors are not willing or not certifying them for the program,” Holt said.
The Health and Human Services data reports that 530 doctors and nurse practitioners have so far certified patients for medical marijuana. Most of the providers were in Family Practice or Internal Medicine and located in Grafton and Hillsborough Counties. Another 30 health professionals from neighboring states – Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont – also certified New Hampshire residents.
“I really didn’t know what we were going to see a year in,” Holt said. “Five hundred and sixty, I think is a great start in the first year of a brand new program.”
New Hampshire currently has four open and operational medical marijuana dispensaries.
You can read the entire report from the Concord Monitor, here. The Department of Health and Human Services’ data report, which reflects information on the state’s medical cannabis program as of December 19, 2016, is available to view here.