NH House makes history approving legalization bill, then settles for sending decriminalization bill to Senate (where it gets killed)
After years of hard work, our coalition finally convinced the New Hampshire House that it should vote to end marijuana prohibition. On January 15, 2014, the House voted 170-162 to approve HB 492.
Based on Colorado's Amendent 64, this bill would have allowed adults 21 and over to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. It would also have set up a regulated and taxed market consisting of state-licensed wholesalers and retailers.
Unfortunately, Governor Maggie Hassan said she would veto the bill. On January 13, she told WMUR she thinks "it 's the wrong message to send to young people."
As a result, the House reconsidered its position. After passing a more modest "decriminalization" bill, HB 1625, in a 215-92 vote, the House decided not to send HB 492 to the Senate.
HB 1625 would have reduced the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a violation and a fine of up to $100, but the Senate refused to hold a hearing on the bill. A similar bill, HB 618, has been introduced for the 2015 session.
HB 621, as amended by the House, would reduce the penalty for possessing up to a quarter ounce of marijuana, making it a civil fine of up to $200. This bill passed the House by a surprising 214-115 margin and will move to the Senate. Sadly, Gov. Maggie Hassan says she opposes any reform other than a very limited medical marijuana bill.
HB 492 is based on Colorado's Amendment 64. It would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults over 21, and it would allow individuals to cultivate up to 6 plants (3 mature). This bill has been retained by the committee for further study.
HB 337 would make marijuana entirely legal with no limits or restrictions under state law. This bill was rejected 12-8 by the committee and killed in a 239-112 vote by the full House.
HB 621 would reduce the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, making it a civil fine of up to $100. This bill was rejected 12-6 by the committee, but was amended and passed the House.
Three bills will have public hearings Thursday afternoon, February 14 in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (Legislative Office Building Room 204)
HB 492 is based on Colorado's Amendment 64. It would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults over 21, and it would allow individuals to cultivate up to 6 plants (3 mature). This hearing will begin at 1pm.
HB 337 would make marijuana entirely legal with no limits or restrictions under state law. This hearing will begin after the previous hearing concludes, likely around 2pm.
HB 621 would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. This hearing will begin after the previous hearing concludes, likely around 3pm.
A new poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project has found strong public support for reforming marijuana laws in New Hampshire! According to the poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), 68% of Granite Staters support allowing marijuana for medical use, 62% support decriminalizing possession of up to one ounce, and 53% support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol and tobacco. The full results are available here.
Tuesday the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. HB 1526 was first amended, then voted “ought to pass” by the committee in a 9-7 vote. With the amendment, possession of less than ½ ounce becomes a violation for the first two offenses before rising to the level of misdemeanor for the third offense.
Three bills of interest have been scheduled for hearings:
HB 1705 allows the purchase and use of marijuana by adults, regulates the purchase and use of marijuana, and imposes taxes on the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana. This bill has been scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday, January 25, at 11:00 a.m. in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.
This very comprehensive article by Richard Ager kicks off 2012 with a comprehensive discussion of marijuana and marijuana policy in New Hampshire.
In 2012, we will work to make New Hampshire the 17th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. The home base for this campaign will be NHCompassion.org, so please bookmark that site and stay tuned for new developments.
Committee Members Say They Prefer to Focus on Passing a Medical Marijuana Law and Decriminalizing Personal Possession