States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: May 18, 2023
N.H. Senate defeats legalization; Governor would sign legalization bill with state-run cannabis stores
New Hampshire is the only state in New England that hasn’t legalized and regulated cannabis for adults. But, over 70% voter support is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
In mid-to-late 2022, MPP worked with a broad coalition of allies — including the state chapters of the ACLU and Americans for Prosperity — to craft a comprehensive cannabis legalization bill for New Hampshire. We’re thrilled the bill — HB 639 — was introduced by the House’s Democratic and Republican leaders — Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R) and Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm (D)! After being amended in two committees, the House passed the bill in a 272-109 (71%) vote on April 6, 2023 — sending it to the Senate.
On May 11, 2023, the N.H. Senate defeated the House-passed legalization bill — as it had done many times before — in a 14-10 vote. However, the day after the Senate defeat, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) opined legalization in New Hampshire is inevitable, given popular will, and he said he would sign a bill with certain features, including state-run stores. MPP has concerns about this model, including that it may not get off the ground due to federal law. And some key state senators believe it’s too late in the legislative year to vet or craft a new proposal.
But this is the first time ever that a New Hampshire governor has expressed any support for legalization, and it is entirely possible a bill could pass the finish line within the next year.
Please use our advocacy software to thank your senator or express disappointment based on their vote. (After you type in your name and address, our advocacy software will load letters for you to review and edit based on how your senator voted.) And stay plugged in as we work not only to pass legalization, but also advocate for a proposal that actually works.
Medical cannabis improvements under consideration
Several other cannabis policy reform bills were also introduced in 2023 — including several proposals to improve the state’s therapeutic cannabis program. The full Senate has not yet voted on a House-passed bill to allow home cultivation of medical cannabis (HB 431), a bill to make it easier for pain patients to qualify (HB 611), and a bill to expand what practitioners can certify patients for medical cannabis (HB 610). You can scroll down for links to the text and more details of all pending cannabis policy bills in the state. If you’d like to reach out to your senators on these bills, you can find their information on the legislative site.
Unfortunately, a bill to provide employment protections, HB 82, has stalled in the House, but it can be taken up next year.
N.H.’s decriminalization and annulment laws
On July 18, 2017, Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 640, a cannabis decriminalization bill, into law. The law reduced penalties for possessing three-quarters of an ounce or less of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable only by a fine (a summary of the law is here).
Then, in 2019, Gov. Sununu signed HB 399, which allows people who received misdemeanor convictions for possessing small amounts of cannabis prior to decriminalization to have their records annulled.
MPP advocated for decriminalization in New Hampshire for more than a decade in advance of this victory. However, we know that this progress would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we are grateful to attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (who passed away on March 7, 2022) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible cannabis policy reforms.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire, be sure to subscribe to MPP's alerts, if you haven't done so already.
Earlier today, the New Hampshire Senate voted down a bill (HB 629) to make it legal for adults who are 21 or older to possess and grow small amounts of cannabis. Only nine of the 24 senators voted for legalization.