Last Update: March 4, 2014
N.H. House makes history: Votes to legalize and regulate marijuana!
On January 15, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 170-162 to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for use by adults in the "Live Free or Die" state. This was the first time any state legislative chamber has approved such a bill.
An October 25 WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire adults support the bill — HB 492. Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she will veto the bill if it reaches her desk. "I just think it's the wrong message to send to young people," she explained.
If you live in New Hampshire, please contact Gov. Hassan's office and tell her sensible regulation does NOT send the wrong message. Then, contact your state senator and ask for his or her support.
Based on Colorado's Amendment 64 and sponsored by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester), HB 492 would end New Hampshire's failed prohibition of marijuana and replace it with a system of sensible regulation. It would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six plants for personal use, in addition to creating a system for taxing and regulating the cultivation, production, and sale of marijuana. The bill is currently being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, and a second vote by the House will be held in March.
Please make sure you are signed up for MPP’s email alerts, so we can keep you posted as this and other important marijuana policy reforms are considered.
Gov. Hassan signs bill; N.H. becomes 19th state to pass medical marijuana law
On July 23, 2013, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill allowing seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use marijuana for medical purposes. Unfortunately, before doing so, she insisted on several changes, which included gutting the affirmative defense provisions, removing PTSD from the list of conditions, and requiring written permission from property owners or tenants before patients may use marijuana on private property. A summary of the bill is available here.
MPP and other advocates’ and legislative champions’ work on this bill did not stop with Gov. Hassan’s signature. We are closely monitor the rulemaking and implementation processes, and we're doing our best to make sure the program is implemented as swiftly and responsibly as possible. We will also support legislation to improve the law, such as HB 1622, a 2014 bill that would allow limited home cultivation by qualifying patients. HB 1622 was approved February 20 in a 13-3 vote by the House Committee on Health, Human Resources, and Elderly Affairs, and it is expected to pass the House in March.
If you live in New Hampshire, please click here to contact your representatives about HB 1622.
MPP's Matt Simon and former Rep. Evalyn Merrick — who sponsored medical marijuana legislation — after the signing of HB 573.
House considers bill that would reduce marijuana penalties in 2014
HB 492 has received a great deal of attention this year, but since that bill is opposed by Gov. Hassan and several senators, it is very unlikely to become law in 2014.
Fortunately, the House is also currently considering a less controversial bill that would significantly improve New Hampshire’s marijuana policies. HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and seven co-sponsors, would reduce the penalty for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. This would bring New Hampshire’s laws in line with those of other New England states, all of which have “decriminalized” simple possession. The bill would also reduce maximum penalties for possessing or selling amounts greater than one ounce.
The House has passed “decriminalization” bills four times in recent history, but each was killed in the Senate:
- In 2008, HB 1623 passed the House 193-141.
- In 2010, HB 1653 passed the House 214-137.
- In 2012, a year in which Republicans controlled nearly 75% of the House, HB 1526 passed 162-161.
- In 2013, HB 621 passed the House 214-115.
Will 2014 be the year New Hampshire finally reduces its penalties for marijuana possession? MPP will be working hard to achieve this goal. If you live in New Hampshire, click here to send legislators a message in support of HB 1625.
Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.