NH Law About... Medical Marijuana

Introduction to... Medical Marijuana

Posted: March 7, 2016. Rev. March 30, 2016

The Read About … section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. Read the Law … links to selected statutes, cases, and regulations. Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.  All the resources mentioned in the introduction are linked to below.

In 2013, the New Hampshire legislature passed RSA126-X, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.  The law is very narrow in its coverage and applies only to carefully defined “qualifying patients” who are suffering from a “qualifying medical condition” and possess a “registry identification card” to prove it.  Marijuana grown for use in this program must come from an “alternative treatment center”.   Since passage of the law, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has been setting up the components of the system under which this program operates.   

It isn't unusual to see both state and federal statutes that apply to a particular situation and here we have the New Hampshire Controlled Drug Act, RSA 318-B:26 IX-a and the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. §811. What is unusual is to see the applicable state and federal statutes in direct conflict with each other. RSA 318-B no longer lists marijuana as a controlled drug while the CSA still includes marijuana in the Schedule 1 list of prohibited substances. Although all marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, generally the government only prosecutes those persons who possess, cultivate, or distribute large quantities.  See the U.S. Department of Justice Guidance Document below for details.

The two Congressional Research Service publications under For More Help ...  contain a wealth of general information about many aspects of medical marijuana, particularly the conflict between federal law and many state laws.  Additionally, the Americans for Safe Access website contains a great deal of general information about the topic, including a discussion of the differences between federal and state law and links to information about this topic for each approving state. 

For specific and timely information on New Hampshire’s developing program, the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services website is a great detailed resource.  This agency is responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program.  And for those with the time and inclination to listen, the (lengthy) audio files from the N.H. legislature provide general background information on the medical marijuana issue from a variety of perspectives. Although this background information is not officially part of the law, it is very relevant because it shows what the legislators considered before the bill was approved and became law in this state. Note:  When the New Hampshire legislators were considering 2013 House Bill 573 on medical marijuana, they refer to it as eventually becoming RSA 126-W; however it eventually became RSA 126-X instead. 

The two resources in the “Print” section below provide additional background information.  In the 13th Annual Labor & Employment Law Update, there is a chapter titled Workplace Impact of Medical Marijuana by Debra Weiss Ford which discusses New Hampshire’s new medicinal marijuana law, the federal law, and best practices in the employment setting.  In Drugs and the Law:  Detection, Recognition and Investigation, Chapter 11, “Cannabis (Marijuana)” provides an extensive discussion of the drug, including its history, use, physiological effects, medicinal uses, and impact on the user driving vehicles.

Read about... Medical Marijuana


New Hampshire. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Therapeutic Cannabis Program

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

In June 2013 the New Hampshire Legislature passed House Bill 573 (Chapter 242 of the Laws of 2013), relative to the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 (RSA 126-X) into law effective July 23, 2013. RSA 126-X creates an exemption in state law from criminal penalties for the therapeutic use of cannabis provided that its use is in compliance with RSA 126-X. The NH Legislature placed the responsibility for administering the program within the NH Department of Health and Human Services.   GO>

New Hampshire. General Court. Audio File for April 11, 2013  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

Medical Marijuana Law Factors into Traffic Stops / by Richard Samdperil. New Hampshire Bar News, Vol. 26, No. 8 (Jan. 20, 2016)  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016


13th Annual Labor & Employment Law Update. [Concord, N.H.]: New Hampshire Bar Association, 2014  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

Drugs and the Law: Detection, Recognition and Investigation /by Gary J. Miller. Charlottesville, Va.: LexisNexis, Matthew Bender, 2014. 4th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

Marijuana reform. H.W. Wilson, a division of EBSCO Information Services ; Amenia, New York : Grey House Publishing, Inc., 2014

Marijuana Reform is a collection of articles that examine the recent push for marijuana policy reform in America, which has reached a turning point in 2013 as many states are trending towards legalization and taxation of the psychoactive drug, both medicinally and recreationally.   GO>

Link verified on: March 30, 2016

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Read the law about... Medical Marijuana


RSA 126-X. Use of Cannabis for Therapeutic Purposes  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

RSA 318-B. Controlled Drug Act  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


He-C 400. Therapeutic Cannabis Program  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016


New Hampshire. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Therapeutic Cannabis Program. Application and Forms  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016


21 U.S.C. 811 Controlled Substances Act, (2012)  GO>

Link verified on: October 3, 2016


21 C.F.R. 1308 (2015)  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016


Americans for Safe Access

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research.   GO>

Marijuana: Medical and Retail, Selected Legal Issues /by Todd Garvey and Charles Doyle. [Washington, D.C.]: Congressional Research Service, April 8, 2015  GO>

Link verified on: October 3, 2016

Medical Marijuana: Review and Analysis of Federal and State Policies /by Mark Eddy. [Washington, D.C.]: Congressional Research Service, April 2, 2010   GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

N.H. Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advisory Council. Annual Report  GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

U.S. Dept. of Justice Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement (August 29, 2013)   GO>

Link verified on: March 7, 2016

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