Up in Smoke in New Hampshire

Live Fried or Die Dept.
By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  January 6, 2010

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President Barack Obama has championed a platform that pledges commitment to a green economy. But this probably isn't what he had in mind.

Carl Hedberg, 53, an entrepreneur from Lyndeborough, New Hampshire, has embarked on a new project: starting his own medical-cannabis consultancy. He is doing so despite the fact that the state of New Hampshire can't seem to get on the medical-marijuana wagon. In 2009, the legislature passed a bill aimed at doing so, but Democratic Governor John Lynch vetoed it. Last fall, the State Senate fell short on a vote to override Lynch.

Hedberg, who spent the past 10 years working at the Entrepreneurship Center of Babson College, is not exactly violating the law — that is, as long as he is only dispensing advice. So those who have been told by their doctors they could benefit from medical marijuana can consult with Hedberg on dosage, strains, and cannabis cooking. "Guidance is tailored to individual objectives," says Hedberg's press release, which refers people to his Web site, thefinestgreen.net. But possession of more than an ounce of marijuana in New Hampshire, or any type of cultivation, is a felony, according to Matt Simon, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

"I had a couple of academic projects slated for the coming year," Hedberg tells the Phoenix by e-mail when asked why he chose this line of work, "but both of those dried up in October. The choices then became: go bust, get a 'real' job fast in the middle of a recession, or take a risk and come forward as a patient with a patient service."

While superficially the endeavor seems to be a pipe dream aimed at those who've never seen a Cheech and Chong movie, Hedberg's mission is nobler than that. "The grower piece of the dispensary system already exists," he continues. "The black market serves as an easy last resort. But patients with chronic illnesses often grow their own, or find a trusted care-grower. That way it's cheaper, they know what they're getting, and they can experiment with different strains to see what works best for them."

Hedberg insists he does not grow, and that he never has more than a personal amount on him, which he uses medicinally, for headaches. But he does admit to having smoked pot since high school. "I have always had headaches," he says, "especially in conjunction with storms. But they seem to be increasing in frequency as I get older."

"If I lived out West, I suspect I'd be a dispensary owner or a grower," he says. "My time in Maine last summer convinced me that there is a demand for what I know, and therein lies an opportunity to help patients, meet some talented passionate care-growers, and make a living doing it."

He may be doing just that in New Hampshire sooner than later: according to Simon, a decriminalization bill and a tax-and-regulate bill will be considered by the state legislature in the coming months.

For more information on New Hampshire's marijuana-policy-reform battle, go to nhcommonsense.org.

  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Barack Obama, U.S. Government, Valerie Vande,  More more >
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