New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
By John F.J. Sullivan
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is universally praised for his bipartisanship and his adroit navigation, as a Democrat, through a roiling sea of conservative lawmakers. That's probably why it's no surprise that, when it comes to medical marijuana, he can at once be so right and so wrong.
On June 21, Lynch carried through with his promised veto of Senate Bill 409, a measure to permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in New Hampshire. For sticking by his word, and being willing to break ranks with a large portion of his lefty, 420-friendly base (not to mention defying the libertarian ethos among many Granite Staters), the governor is in the right.
Similarly, the governor is correct in worrying about a lack of oversight that would allow casual stoners, or even children, to avail themselves of cannabis meant for healing. As he says in his veto message, "SB 409 also authorizes marijuana use by minors under the age of 18. At a time of increased use of marijuana by minors across the country, I am very concerned that legislation allowing marijuana use by teenagers even for medical purposes will downplay the perceived risk of use of this drug and will lead to increased adolescent use in New Hampshire."
No question about it. Just as Ritalin and Adderall -- stimulants prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, particularly in young people -- circulate through a teenage underground for unprescribed, even recreational, purposes, "legitimate" marijuana will find its way into the wrong hands.
But, unlike marijuana, countless harmful narcotics, painkillers and amphetamines aren't made illegal because of the potential for illicit use. And that's where the governor finds his way to the wrong side of the issue.
As outlined in the Live Free or Die Alliance's issue page on medicinal marijuana, the American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association, and American Public Health Association are just some of the major health organizations attesting to the medicinal value of marijuana. And while the American Medical Association doesn't expressly endorse marijuana, it has urged the federal government to allow adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids for a variety of patients.
With his veto (and the unlikelihood of predicted doom for an override in the state Senate), Gov. Lynch effectively ends the conversation, and the potential for important medical assistance, for at least another year. That's just wrong.