New Hampshire House Narrowly Votes to Study, Not Pass, Marijuana Bill
Bill to make marijuana legal for adults sent to “interim study” in 135-153 vote
CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire House of Representatives punted a marijuana legalization bill to “interim study” on Thursday, moments after a vote to keep the measure alive fell short in a 135-153 roll call vote. The bill is effectively dead for the year, although it may be studied further by the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 656 was introduced last session by Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford) and previously approved by the House in a vote of 207-139. As amended in early January, it would make possession of three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana legal for adults aged 21 and older. Home cultivation of up to three mature and three immature plants would be legal for adults as well. The bill does not establish a regulated marijuana market, and it would remain illegal to sell any amount of marijuana or drive under the influence.
The House vote was influenced by Rep. Patrick Abrami, the supposedly impartial marijuana study commission chair who led the effort to defeat HB 656 on the House floor today and on January 9. Yesterday, the Marijuana Policy Project launched a petition at Change.org calling for Rep. Patrick Abrami to be replaced as chairman of the commission due to his biases and misrepresentation of testimony heard by the commission to lawmakers. The petition reached 500 signatures earlier today. Rep. Abrami will continue to control the path of the bill as head of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“House leaders should be ashamed of themselves for subverting the will of Granite Staters and failing to send this bill to the Senate,” said Matt Simon, Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “As election season approaches, voters will surely study today’s roll call vote with great interest.”
A poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in April and May of 2017 found that 68% of Granite Staters support legalizing marijuana.
Eight states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, including Massachusetts and Maine. Limited home cultivation is legal in seven of those states, along with Vermont and the District of Columbia. More than 20 states, including nearby Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, are considering bills to make marijuana legal for adults this year.
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