The Case for HB 481 — New Hampshire’s Bill to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis for Adults’ Use
Strong majorities support legalization and regulation.
a. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Granite Staters support legalization (27% opposed), and 80% would support having cannabis be sold in licensed retail stores if made legal.
— March 5, 2019 poll, UNH Survey Center
b. By a more than two-to-one margin, New Hampshire residents supported a 2018 bill to legalize possession and home cultivation of cannabis for adults’ use. — February 27, 2018 poll, UNH Survey Center
c. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Americans support legalization. — October 2018 Gallup poll
d. House Bill 481 would legalize cannabis possession and limited home cultivation for adults 21 and older, and it would regulate and tax the production and sale of cannabis — diverting millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the coffers of regulated businesses.
2. Cannabis is legal for adults in all neighboring jurisdictions.
a. Ten states, including all three neighboring states, have legalized cannabis for adults’ use. Cannabis is also legal throughout Canada.
b. The first two retail stores in Massachusetts opened on November 20, 2018. In the first two months, with less than 10 stores open, retailers sold nearly $24 million worth of cannabis.
3. Legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis is a successful public policy.
a. “Our efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana are succeeding.” — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson
b. Colorado’s economy has flourished since it became the first state to regulate cannabis sales for adult use.
c. A report commissioned by the Colorado Department of Revenue and published in 2018 found that, “the illicit market for resident and visitor marijuana has been largely, if not entirely, absorbed into the legal market, where it is regulated and taxed for the protection of public health and safety."
4. Opponents’ fears have not been realized.
a. According to the most comprehensive surveys, teen use has remained flat — or has decreased — in states that have legalized and regulated cannabis sales.
b. The Department of Justice has not stymied states’ cannabis regulation programs. Attorney General nominee William Barr has confirmed his position in writing for Congress: “I do not intend to go after parties who have complied with state law in reliance on the Cole Memorandum.”
c. Recent studies do not support the hypothesis that states with legal cannabis experience higher rates of traffic fatalities than would otherwise be expected.
e. The “gateway theory” has been debunked by many credible studies, and evidence is growing that cannabis regulation helps to mitigate the opioid crisis — in part by reducing adults’ exposure to illicit drug markets.