N.H. House reverses course on legalization bill, but marijuana is now legal in all three neighboring states
Last update: July 9, 2018
On January 9, 2018, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 207-139 to pass a limited legalization bill, HB 656.
Unfortunately, instead of being transmitted to the Senate, the bill was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee recommended that the bill be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. This recommendation was upheld by the House in a 153-135 vote on March 22.
If you live in New Hampshire, please check to see how your representative(s) voted and send them a follow-up message!
All three of New Hampshire’s neighboring states have now made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. A study commission is currently considering marijuana legalization and regulation, and it is expected to issue its recommendations in November. Gov. Chris Sununu has indicated that he is not yet supportive of efforts to end marijuana prohibition in the Granite State.
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 February 2018, found more than two to one support for HB 656.
In June, the New Hampshire Democratic Party added support for legalizing and regulating marijuana to its platform. Additionally, Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn has announced that he intends to sponsor a bill to end marijuana prohibition in 2019, and he is circulating a petition calling for Gov. Chris Sununu to evolve in support of legalization.
N.H. stops arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana!
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.
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. A bill passed in 2018 that will allow two of the existing dispensaries to open a second location if they choose to do so.
You can read more about the program and access application forms at the department’s website.
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.