New Hampshire has been fighting a drastically steep uphill battle in all forms of cannabis consumption. Of the most suffering are our medical cannabis patients. Card holders as well as recipients looking to obtain a medical cannabis card faced with the challenges of inaccessibility, and lack of education from their medical professionals.
Heather Brown is the Patient Member currently serving under the New Hampshire Therapeutic Cannabis Medical Board. She spoke with us in regards to the current challenges New Hampshire citizens face when obtaining a medical cannabis card.
Cardholders Not Receiving Proper Recommendations
“I think the major issue is medical accessibility in relation to finding a provider that will actually write a recommendation for a therapeutic cannabis card. People are still running into problems with their doctors who will not write out a recommendation because of either lack of education or fear of losing financial federal support. Neither reason is a good enough reason to deny person support when looking to take the therapeutic cannabis route instead of pharmaceuticals, or even in some cases, surgery. “
Another issue that patients face is the lack of clarification with the list of qualifying conditions. This issue is not only one that patients have, but also medical professionals.
“Let us look at the case of chronic pain. When chronic pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions back in 2017, legislators hopes were that this would open up the gate for so many other people to be qualified for a therapeutic cannabis card and that it would lessen the burden put on legislators to make decisions in regards to what conditions should or should not be on the qualifying conditions list. Yet some medical professionals do not seem to respond well with the open-endedness of this classification. We still have bills being presented that would technically fall under the category of chronic pain but because of the lack in clarity, some individuals still find it necessary to create legislative pathways and have specific conditions added as standalone conditions. “
Let’s also take a look at chronic Lyme disease. If you are suffering from chronic Lyme disease then you are suffering from all of the symptoms that go with it. These include chronic pain so therefore having chronic Lyme disease should automatically qualify you under chronic pain. The open endedness in regards to clarification of chronic pain has left some medical professionals and patients at a standstill. Whether or not a medical professional could give a recommendation or a patient could ask for one.
Cannabis For Chronic Pain
It should be a no-brainer and the answer should be yes they can. Unfortunately, it is a “how you interpret it” scenario. This has left many people still suffering. Obstacles to access are limiting on the basis of personal interpretation. Honestly, it should not be about personal interpretation it should be clear-cut. If you suffer from anything that causes you chronic pain then you should be able to receive a recommendation.
Medical professionals either have a lack of education or fear of giving a recommendation. Patients are to seek out other doctors that will work with them and give them a recommendation. This puts unneeded stress and frustrations on people. It can also bring on more of a financial burden. A patient still has to develop a three-month relationship with their new medical professional. This is before that individual can even make the request for a recommendation.
“I think that we have seen a lot of positive movement from the government including the Department of Health and Human Services in New Hampshire that has been able to propel the therapeutic cannabis program forward there have been several bills brought forward and even at this point signed into law that has definitely created a better pathway not only for medical professionals but most importantly for patients. Some of those include the following HB364 permitting qualifying patients and designated caregivers to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic use this bill if signed into law will allow patients and caregivers to cultivate their own cannabis for therapeutic use which would be extremely beneficial in the sense that patients could grow a specific strain they need for their ailments as well as a huge offset in money spent on therapeutic cannabis there for saving a patient potentially thousands of dollars every year.”
Unfortunately HB364 which would allow these amenities was recently vetoed by Governor Chris Sununu.
We spoke with Scott Ross; a medical cannabis nurse and caregiver in New Hampshire in regards to HB364.
Difficulties for NH patients applying for their TCP card continues to be accessible to providers. willing to certify patients and there still needs to be a major education improvement on the provider level. Also, the 3-month relationship is difficult. Hospice patients are able to be instantly qualified. Then there’s the photograph and a disk as an unnecessary and additional hurdle. Some docs are even telling patients that it’s too expensive and such a hassle that why bother.
As New Hampshire continues to fall behind in its medical program, many feel they may not get the right treatment. There are currently 5 medical cannabis dispensaries in New Hampshire with its newest located in Conway.