New Hampshire: Gov. Sununu now says he supports adult use, but only with state control.
One day after the Senate rejected a House-passed adult use measure, HB 639, Gov. Chris Sununu, a longtime legalization opponent, came out in support of a state-run model.
He tweeted Friday morning: “With this right policy and framework in place, I stand ready to sign a marijuana legalization bill that puts the State of New Hampshire in the driver’s seat, focusing on harm reduction – not profits.”
And then he linked to a statement that more fully fleshed out his perspective.
The legislature has time to get something to Sununu’s desk this session, and House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, who authored HB 639, told local news station WMUR that he would support the effort, even though it isn’t his proposed model.
Legislative check in: where do the states stand?
So far, 2023 has held quite a few surprises when it comes to state-level wins for reform advocates.
Typically, it’s the presidential election years, or, to a lesser extent, the midterms, where the number of states with legal medical or adult use cannabis notches upward. That’s because much of cannabis reform, until recently, happened by ballot box.
The first year to really buck that trend was 2021, during which five states changed their laws by bill: Alabama for medical, and New York, Connecticut, Virginia, and New Mexico for adult use.
Now, after Gov. Chris Sununu’s unexpected and reluctant expression of support for legalization, albeit begrudgingly, and albeit with a state-run model, as we reported in Monday’s newsletter, New Hampshire could also join the adult use list by year’s end. Any day now, Minnesota lawmakers are set to send a bill to Gov. Tim Walz, who is eager to sign it, and that state has been in the can since the midterms, as Cannabis Wire reported at the time. And that leaves Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for medical and adult use respectively, which are both up in the air but very much in play.
In Wisconsin, we reported in this newsletter last month that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Associated Press that he and other Assembly Republicans are working toward the introduction of a medical cannabis bill this fall (reluctantly, like in New Hampshire). And in Pennsylvania, the first adult use bill of the session envisions an adult use approach (also like New Hampshire) (so many parallels with New Hampshire), as we reported in this newsletter this month.
There have also been states where, despite vigorous pushes, medical and adult use measures didn’t make the cut this year.
A big bill on the adult use front is Hawaii, where groups like MPP and the ACLU put quite a bit of energy behind Rep. Jeanné Kapela’s HB 237. There was also a dedicated, albeit longshot, effort in Indiana for both medical and adult use via HB 1039 , with bill sponsor Rep. Jake Teshka kicking off the session with a rally alongside Americans for Prosperity.
(It wasn’t a bill, but remember Oklahoma? Voters overwhelmingly defeated an adult use measure during the special election in March, as Cannabis Wire reported.)
And with medical cannabis, there are a handful of states where dedicated lawmakers and governors simply keep coming up against reluctant lawmakers and governors, all in states where the legislature is Republican-controlled.
The big states that tried and failed again in 2023 are:
• South Carolina: Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican, has been leading the charge, and he tried again this year with S. 423.
• North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is actually in support of reform, but SB 3 couldn’t gain momentum.
• Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has repeatedly called on the Republican-controlled to act, with no luck.
• Nebraska: the state’s winding road continues, as lawmakers yet again killed a medical cannabis bill this year. The lawmakers behind the legislation have tried twice for the ballot as an alternative: in 2022, they fell short of signatures, and in 2020, they qualified, but later got removed by the Supreme Court.
As the saying goes: win some, lose some. But for now, it looks like those pushing for wins may have a few more in store in 2023.
Cancer patients’ access to cannabis is not equitable.
Two researchers, from the University of Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a survey of 352 cancer patients in Pennsylvania in 2021.
They found that just under 43% of the participants were medical cannabis patients, but that “those who identified as Black/African American were significantly less likely to be certified compared to the group’s white participants, and were also more likely to report using cannabis in forms associated with adverse health outcomes, like varieties intended to be smoked or vaporized.”
“This is sadly yet another way in which systemic factors like racism and inequitable distribution of income impacts whether patients have the same access for managing cancer-related symptoms,” said researcher Rebecca Ashare, of the University of Buffalo.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.