States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: January 27, 2023
N.H. House leaders file bipartisan legalization bill
New Hampshire is the only state in New England that hasn’t legalized and regulated cannabis for adults. That could finally change in 2023. Over the summer and fall of 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)!
Polling shows 74% of Granite State voters support legalizing cannabis. But, year after year after year, legalization bills have died in the Senate after passing the House and met with an icy reception from Gov. Chris Sununu. The November elections brought in a somewhat more favorable Senate and Gov. Sununu’s stance has been softening, but challenges remain.
The bipartisan, coalition bill is informed by the lessons of the 21 states that have already legalized cannabis and reflects the priorities and values of New Hampshire. It includes home cultivation, the lowest cannabis tax rate in the nation, low barriers to entry so mom and pops can succeed, protections to prevent excessive market concentration, automatic expungement and release of cannabis prisoners, and much more. Check out our bill summary here, which includes some provisions that were in the initial draft and that we would like to see restored.
Several other legalization bills were also introduced — including two that would have created a state-run monopoly of cannabis stores (HB 544 and HB 643). We believe HB 639 is the most comprehensive and workable among them. There are also several proposals to improve the state’s therapeutic cannabis program — including by allowing home cultivation (HB 431), providing employment protections (HB 82), and making it easier for pain patients to qualify (HB 611). You can scroll down for links to the text and more details of all pending cannabis policy bills in the state.
And make sure you’re subscribed to MPP’s New Hampshire state email alerts to stay tuned.
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.