GOP-Controlled Legislature Passes a Medical Marijuana Bill; Democratic Governor Plans to Veto It


This week the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a medical marijuana bill by a lopsided vote of 236 to 96, one day after Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, threatened to veto the legislation. Last month the state Senate approved the bill, which would let patients with "debilitating medical conditions" or their "designated caregivers" grow and possess up to six ounces at a time, by a vote of 13 to 11, with all five Democrats and eight Republicans in favor. The number of yes votes in the House, where nearly three-quarters of the seats are held by Republicans, is enough to overcome a veto (which requires a two-thirds majority), but the bill's supporters need to get three more votes in the Senate. If they manage to do that, New Hampshire will become the 17th state to allow medical use of marijuana. Lynch successfully vetoed a similar bill in 2009.

Democrats were actually more likely than Republicans to vote for the the bill, but there aren't enough of them to pass anything on their own, let alone achieve a veto-proof majority. In absolute numbers, the bill got more votes from Republicans than from Democrats. In New Hampshire, then, medical marijuana is a cause supported mainly by Republicans and opposed by the state's most prominent Democrat (who perhaps is taking his cues from the country's most prominent Democrat). Weird, right? Why would the party that supposedly favors a smaller, less intrusive government want to let sick people grow their own medicine?