New Hampshire and Connecticut Lawmakers Pass Medical Cannabis Legislation, But Hurdles Remain

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Great news on the East Coast: The House of Representatives in both New Hampshire and Connecticut voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization within hours of each other yesterday.

The developments represent solid progress for medical cannabis in those states, reflect growing support for medical cannabis in the Northeast region of the country and could help create new opportunities for MMJ companies and entrepreneurs.

But MMJ legalization is not a done deal in either state. Far from it.

New Hampshire’s Democratic governor announced ahead of the vote in his state that he would veto the measure if it reached his desk, citing concerns over how medical marijuana would be distributed and regulated. If the governor follows through with that threat, it would mark the second time in the past four years that he has vetoed medical marijuana legislation approved by lawmakers.

But that wouldn’t necessarily kill the bill, called SB 409. To override the veto, three of the 11 Senators who oppose the measure would have to reconsider and cast votes in favor of the bill.

There’s certainly a chance that could happen, given strong support for medical marijuana among lawmakers in general. A key supporter of SB 409 told the Concord Monitor that he thinks at least two Senators have expressed a willingness to switch their vote and that a third could as well, though he cautioned against being overly optimistic.

The situation is brighter in Connecticut, where a similar medical cannabis bill easily passed in the House, with 96 lawmakers voting in favor of it and 51 opposing the measure. The bill will now move to the Senate for further debate, and supporters are confident there’s enough support to pass the bill. A similar measure passed several years ago, but the governor at the time vetoed it. That’s unlikely to happen this time around, however, because the current governor has already come out in support of medical marijuana.