September 25, 2015

Maggie Hassan Caught Asleep At The Wheel Again

As New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan persists with her will-she-or-won’t-she consideration of a potential U.S. Senate run, she continues to be checked out of her day job.

The latest example of Hassan’s absentee governorship – which includes a muddled response to the state’s heroin crisis and completely mismanaging the fallout from her budget veto – is her failure to appoint a functional patient advocate to New Hampshire’s medical marijuana advisory council despite repeated requests. The position is especially important as the state readies to open its first dispensaries in a few months. The Concord Monitor reports:

While [patient Chris Lopez], and other patients, come to Concord to raise those kinds of concerns at legislative hearings, patients don’t have a formal voice on a key state advisory council that is overseeing implementation of the medical marijuana law.

Why not?

The state’s 16-member Therapeutic Cannabis Advisory Council is supposed to help develop rules around the use of medical marijuana, and one of the group’s primary tasks is to collect information from patients and gauge their satisfaction with the program.

But the one council member who qualifies to use medical marijuana, and is supposed to represent the state’s patient community on the advisory board, hasn’t come to a single meeting since Gov. Maggie Hassan named her to the oversight group in 2013, according to meeting minutes.

The absence means that no one serving on the advisory council – set to meet this afternoon for the first time since January – speaks on behalf of the community of patients who qualify to use medical marijuana.

Despite inquiries from patient advocates and members of the council, Hassan’s office hasn’t replaced the representative.

Hassan’s fellow Democrats flagged the issue for the governor’s office last year:

Concerns about attendance surfaced at a meeting in mid-2014, when Chairman Rep. James MacKay told the council he had asked Hassan’s office about Kilar’s status, “but had not received a response about any new appointments,” according to minutes from the June meeting.

“The best we can do is tell the governor’s office the person isn’t showing up,” MacKay, a Concord Democrat, said recently. “As far as I know, that’s been conveyed.”

But apparently nothing got done.

As has frequently become the case with Hassan’s administration, it takes a bad news story that threatens her political ambitions for her office to get around to doing something:

Hassan’s spokesman, William Hinkle, said the office shares the council’s attendance concerns.