N.H. House passes legalization bill!
Last update: January 10, 2018
On January 9, 2018, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 207-139 to pass a limited legalization bill, HB 656. A key House committee had voted 13-7 in November 2017 to recommend against the bill’s passage, but the committee’s report was overturned in a 182-163 vote, and the bill was then amended and passed on the House floor.
Instead of legalizing retail sales — which is something a study commission is considering — the amended HB 656 would simply allow adults to cultivate six plants, three of which could be mature. It would also legalize possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less, and marijuana in excess of that amount would be legal as long as it is stored along with the plants that produced it.
Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Sununu told reporters that he does not support legalization. If you live in New Hampshire, please call Gov. Sununu and urge him to reconsider his position on HB 656.
While some politicians continue to oppose sensible reforms, public opinion continues to turn strongly against the prohibition of marijuana. Four consecutive polls published by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that at least 60% of Granite Staters support legalizing marijuana. The university’s most recent poll, in May 2017, found 68% support. Legalization is now much more popular than any N.H. politician.
In addition to signing the decriminalization bill and bills improving the medical cannabis program, Gov. Sununu signed a bill in 2017 creating a study commission to consider marijuana legalization. The commission began meeting in October.
N.H. decriminalization bill takes effect!
On July 18, 2017, Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 640, a marijuana decriminalization bill, into law. Under the new law, effective September 16, 2017, penalties for possessing three quarters of an ounce or less of marijuana are reduced from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable only by a fine.
Although the House passed decriminalization bills several times in recent years, this year’s bill passed overwhelmingly in a 318-36 vote on March 8. The Senate passed an amended version in a 17-6 vote. On June 1, the House approved the Senate’s amendment on a voice vote, sending the bill to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk (a summary of the new law is here).
MPP has been advocating for decriminalization in New Hampshire for more than a decade. However, we know that this victory would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we’d like to thank attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible marijuana policy reforms.
Bill to expand, improve therapeutic cannabis program takes effect
On June 28, 2017, Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law HB 160, which added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions to the law, and HB 157, which added moderate to severe chronic pain. HB 157 went into effect on August 15, and HB 160 went into effect on August 27. You can read a summary of the changes here.
One bill that did not advance in 2017 was HB 472, which would allow qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate up to two mature plants and 12 seedlings. This bill passed the House despite having been voted down in committee. It was retained for further study by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which voted in September not to move forward with the bill.
New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis program was created on July 23, 2013, when then-Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill allowing seriously ill New Hampshire residents to use cannabis for medical purposes.
A terminally ill lung cancer patient, Linda Horan, became the first patient to receive an ID card in December 2015 after she sued the state and won, and she was able to visit a dispensary in Maine to obtain cannabis legally. MPP was proud to have supported this lawsuit, and we are grateful to Linda, her attorney, Paul Twomey, and Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their efforts on behalf of all New Hampshire patients.
The first N.H. dispensary began serving patients on April 30, 2016, and the other three approved dispensaries opened in the summer of 2016.
You can read more about the program and access application forms at the department’s website.
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