Market Overview

A Snapshot Of America's Medical Marijuana Markets: New Hampshire

A Snapshot Of America's Medical Marijuana Markets: New Hampshire

In 2013, New Hampshire's then-Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the Granite State's medical cannabis regulations into law.

An adult-use legalization effort in 2014 in the state failed; New Hampshire did pass decriminalization legislation in 2017. 

The state of 1.36 million citizens has an active patient roll of just over 8,300 people, according to 2019 state data. Between June 2018 and October 2019, patient enrollment leaped 32%.

The state's program has no sales tax on medical products, seven active medical dispensaries, a prohibition on home cultivation and reciprocity for out-of-state medical licenses.

A Maturing Market Faces Growing Pains

In 2019, the New Hampshire medical market generated $20 million in sales, figures that are expected to climb to $55 million in 2024, according to data from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. 

The state has three license holders, with each operating as vertically integrated entities per state regulations.

Ross Connolly, deputy state director with Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire, said the state is not set up for a competitive cannabis market. The group is a conservative, pro-deregulation political advocacy organization financed by the Koch brothers. 

"[The current market] leaves many patients having to look to surrounding states to find medicine," he said. "This current system is leaving many patients behind."

The citizens most affected by a lack of access can be found in the state's most rural parts. Yet efforts have been made to prevent patients from having to travel.  

Cannabis Bills Have Mixed Success In New Hampshire

In May 2019, state lawmakers approved HB 364, which allows qualified license holders to grow three mature plants and three immature seedlings.

Some lawmakers voiced concerns over law enforcement measures for theft and improper usage.

In the end, the effort was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu on the basis of safety concerns.

One law that did pass in September 2019 allows licensed holders to open two satellite locations in rural areas, a move aimed at increasing the number of stores while providing patients with local access to medicine.

In the months since, the state has seen two satellite locations open, bringing the tally of retail locations to five.

Sununu is known for issuing vetoes and did so 57 times last year

Those bills included a measure aimed at allowing licensed patients to buy cannabis even if they haven't had the same doctor for three months.

In September, lawmakers overrode the governor's decision and enacted the law. 

Sununu On 'Wrong Side' Of Recreational Issue, Says Cannabis Advocate 

Sununu still has support in the cannabis community.

Daryl Eames, the founder of the NH Cannabis Association, told Benzinga he mainly approves of Sununu's work, aside from the opposition to adult use cannabis.

"I think he's great, but I think just on this particular issue of recreational cannabis he's on the wrong side of it."

While the governor shows a lack of support for advancing adult use reform, Eames points toward positive signs on the matter.

They include a spring 2019 University of New Hampshire poll that found that roughly two-thirds of those polled support adult use legalization.

"If the survey is correct, then the citizens of the state want this to happen," said the cannabis advocacy group's founder. "But [Sununu] and some of his constituents have lobbied against it."

Adult Use Efforts Continue In New Hampshire 

On Feb. 20, the state House passed a legalization measure, 236-112. The bill now moves to the Senate.

If approved, the law would not allow for the production or sales of the plant. Instead, it would permit limited home growing while also permitting the gifting of up to 3/4 of an ounce.

While the effort to expand adult use access trudges along, lawmakers continue to strive for improved patient access as well.

This includes two bills passed Jan. 9 that added to the medical program's list of qualifying conditions.

A more robust effort to include anxiety and Lyme disease on the list failed. 

Americans for Prosperity's Connolly said the bills passed in January represent a compromise. 

"This proposal should find broad bipartisan support and will have a great chance at becoming law as long as legislators recognize the need to work together to accomplish something positive for the people of New Hampshire and leave partisanship behind."

Related Links:

New Hampshire Cannabis Home Cultivation Bill Passes Senate Vote

The NCIA's NorthEast Cannabis Business Conference Lands In Boston Feb. 19-20


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