It was announced late last week that Sanctuary ATC in Plymouth would be the first dispensary in the entire state to begin servicing patients approved for participation in the program.
According to a report from New Hampshire Public Radio, the state’s first dispensary officially opened its doors over the weekend, serving about 45 patients by the end of the first day. The dispensary got off to a bit of a slow start because every patient was forced to fill out the necessary paperwork before they could even begin to discuss medical marijuana with the staff.
State law authorizes Sanctuary ATC to service somewhere around 147 patients and caregivers.
“When the Therapeutic Cannabis Program was established by the legislature, it envisioned that people in New Hampshire suffering from serious medical conditions would be able to access therapeutic cannabis for relief. I am very pleased to announce that with the opening of the Sanctuary dispensary in Plymouth, that day has arrived,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey A. Meyers. “My thanks to the Therapeutic Cannabis Program staff and Sanctuary ATC for their tireless efforts in realizing this significant achievement on behalf of patients and caregivers.”
Although New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan put her signature on a bill in 2013 aimed at providing patients with access to medical marijuana, the state has taken its sweet time implementing the program. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that the Health Department finally began issuing medical marijuana cards to patients certified by a licensed physician.
And while the courtroom controversy surrounding Linda Horan, a lung cancer patient who died earlier this year, gave some people special permission to purchase the herb from legal states, most were left without any access while the state slowly put the program in a position to launch.
Unfortunately, the best New Hampshire officials have been able to do is give one of the four selected dispensaries permission to open its doors. There is speculation that another dispensary could be given the green light to open both of its locations (Dover and Lebanon) later this week, but the dispensary authorized to service the Merrimack area could take awhile before its operational. The company is still working to assemble its cultivation facility.
The good news, however, is unlike New York and Pennsylvania, patients suffering from conditions like cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, significant weight loss, severe pain or wasting syndrome have the freedom to smoke marijuana as opposed to only consuming derivatives such as oils, tinctures and liquids for vaporizers. Patients, while prohibited from engaging in home cultivation, can purchase up to two ounces of marijuana during each dispensary visit.
Yet, the program still has a long way to go before there are enough patients to sustain the new market. As it stands, the state has only 613 patients and 39 caregivers registered for participation. Last month, Cannabis Now reported that some medical marijuana programs were at risk of going bankrupt because there weren’t enough patients to sustain all of the dispensaries. In Illinois, some dispensary owners claim they need 30,000 registered patients to keep them afloat, while in Minnesota, officials recently added “intractable pain” to the list of qualified conditions in an effort to get the patient numbers up enough to prevent the state’s three marijuana companies from going out of business.
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