New Hampshire Governor Signs New Bill, HB 89, to Expand Medical Cannabis Program

Governor Chris Sununu has signed HB 89 to expand medical cannabis access in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Governor Signs New Bill, HB 89, to Expand Medical Cannabis Program

New Hampshire will now be expanding the pool of patients eligible to receive medical cannabis, thanks to a newly signed bill, HB 89.

This week, Republican Governor Chris Sununu signed HB 89, which will go into effect July 21. Under this new law, physicians will be allowed to authorize patients who have moderate or severe insomnia to use medical cannabis. In addition to this exciting news, it also allows adults and pediatric patients with autism spectrum disorder to receive medical cannabis in some cases.

This move to sign HB 89 is in line with recently published data that shows autism spectrum disorder can be treated with cannabis safely and with favorable results. A recent study out of Israel looked at the safety and efficacy of cannabis and how administering CBD-heavy cannabis oil can help those with autism. 

The ratio they used was 30 percent CBD and 1.5 percent THC, and the study was conducted with 188 patients who all have autism spectrum disorder. The patients underwent the treatment for six months and provided feedback about their experience. Of those who participated, 90 percent said they had some level of improvement in their symptoms, such as relief from restlessness, seizures, and rage attacks. About one-third of those polled said they were also able to take less of other medications because of the CBD.

Authors concluded: “Cannabis as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders patients appears to be well-tolerated, safe and seemingly effective option to relieve symptoms, mainly: seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks. … [W]e believe that double blind placebo-controlled trials are crucial for a better understanding of the cannabis effect on ASD patients.”

Additionally, another study also from Israel looked specifically at how cannabis can help children with autism spectrum disorder, as the study claimed that evidence was lacking in this department. “This retrospective study assessed tolerability and efficacy in cannabidiol-rich cannabis in 60 children with ASD and severe behavioral problems,” the researchers wrote in their abstract.

Researchers looked at children around the age of 11 who are low-functioning and monitored things like sleep disturbances, irritability, and loss of appetite. While one girl from the study had a psychotic episode that could be connected to THC content, 61 percent of patients were very much improved following the study.

HB 89 and Beyond

In addition to the new laws related to medical patients, the governor also signed House Bill 163 into law. This new law makes sure that staff at medical dispensaries are directed properly by health department officials to provide literature and information about the “risk of cannabis use during pregnancy.” While studies have shown inconsistent results about how cannabis affects pregnancy, New Hampshire doesn’t want to take any chances.

“I, Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy,” the surgeon general writes in the bill. “Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.”

“No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe. Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana. The human brain continues to develop from before birth into the mid-20s and is vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances. Pregnant women and youth—and those who love them—need the facts and resources to support healthy decisions. It is critical to educate women and youth, as well as family members, school officials, state and local leaders, and health professionals, about the risks of marijuana, particularly as more states contemplate legalization.”

New Hampshire is hedging its bets when it comes to medical cannabis, but it is also making moves to ensure more patients have access.

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