Insomniacs and people with autism spectrum disorder may soon have a new treatment option: medicinal marijuana.
A bill adding both to the state’s qualifying conditions sailed through the House this month and won unanimous support from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee following a hearing where no one testified in opposition. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill Thursday via a remote session.
It is currently legal to use therapeutic cannabis to treat moderate to severe chronic pain from a number of illnesses, including cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.
Rep. Suzanne Vail, a Nashua Democrat and prime sponsor of the bill, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that medicinal marijuana can treat insomnia, unlike traditional sleep medication, is not habit forming, and does not cause side effects. The House added autism spectrum disorder to the bill for anyone over 21 and people under 21 if a doctor confirms the patient has not responded to other medications or treatments.
A second bill before the Senate Thursday would prohibit the state from issuing or renewing a medical marijuana card for pregnant women, anyone under 25, and parents or guardians of children under 18 until they have been advised of the risks of marijuana use. The House passed the bill, 255 to 101, with only Republicans voting against it.
On its website, the state Department of Health and Human Services says there is “no known safe amount” of cannabis for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and warns it can impair a child’s brain development and cause low birth weight.