NH Children Don’t Need SB 700

A committee hearing for Senate Bill 700 was held on January 22nd. As part of the overall effort to expand marijuana use in our state, Senate Bill 700 would include autism as a qualified condition for medical marijuana, treatment not backed by solid research. Moreover, the Surgeon General recently issued an advisory against marijuana use in children and young adults up to the age of 25. SB 700 is bad for our state and bad for children. Read Neil’s testimony on behalf of Cornerstone below and contact the members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to recommend “inexpedient to legislate.”

(Note: An “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation from the committee to the full senate is essentially a recommendation to kill the bill. If adopted by the house, the bill ends there.)

Testimony Text:

I am Neil Hubacker, Director of Strategic Alliances for Cornerstone Policy Research. Cornerstone is dedicated to a New Hampshire where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. As the Director of Strategic Alliances, I mainly concern myself with relationships with Granite State faith & educational communities, but from time to time I involve myself directly in policy. In the case of cannabis, because so many faith leaders deal daily with the negative effects of all kinds of drugs— including alcohol, cannabinoids, and opiates—on families in their congregations, I am compelled to share testimony here. 

Cornerstone is opposed to SB 700 both on its face and in light of the larger strategy it represents. 

At face value, SB 700 is a misleading bill that is disingenuous at best. Preying on people’s compassion, the bill gives false hope to parents with children suffering with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Supporters will point to “studies” and internet videos & testimonials that suggest marijuana alleviates ASD symptoms, but these are untested arguments: “there are no controlled studies using sound and acceptable research designs assessing the impact of marijuana on any aspect of autism symptomology” (see https://asatonline.org/for-parents/becoming-a-savvy-consumer/treatment-marijuana/). The Association for Science in Autism Treatment even warns parents there is strong reason to suspect marijuana harms those with autism (see https://asatonline.org/for-parents/becoming-a-savvy-consumer/treatment-marijuana/).

Moreover, SB 700 ignores the most significant event on marijuana policy in a generation , the U.S. Surgeon General’s August 2019 advisory on the damaging effects of marijuana use on young, developing brains from before birth into the mid-20’s: “No amount of marijuana during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe” (see https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/addiction-and-substance-misuse/advisory-on-marijuana-use-and-developing-brain/index.html). 

Currently in NH, 162 qualified patients ages 6 to 25 have access to marijuana approved by the Granite State (see https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/oos/tcp/documents/tcp-data-report-2018.pdf). SB 700 will increase the number of parents of adolescents seeking marijuana registration cards, putting them at risk, in spite of the U.S. Surgeon General’s warning! 

As a part of a larger strategy, SB 700 is the most disheartening of a series of bills seeking to increase access to so-called therapeutic marijuana and to diminish criminal penalties. We suspect, and media coverage would seem to confirm, that the end goal of SB 700 along with several related bills, is large-scale marijuana commercialization (see https://www.marijuanamoment.net/new-hampshire-lawmakers-take-new-approach-to-marijuana-legalization-for-2020/).  For reasons we outlined clearly in last year’s testimony relative to HB 481 (see https://www.nhcornerstone.org/testimony/no-legalize-recreational-marijuna-testimony/), we believe marijuana commercialization would hurt New Hampshire terribly. In short, commercialization privatizes the benefits and socializes the documented and very high societal costs of cannabis.

For both its inherent danger to some of NH’s most vulnerable children & youth, and for its role in a larger strategy that would do irreparable damage in NH, we urge you to vote inexpedient to legislate on SB 700.