WMUR Says No to Drugs

I didn't see it myself, but I've gotten a few panicked calls from people who watched WMUR last week to hear Scott Spradling announce that a marijuana bill had been defeated. They thought the popular marijuana reform bill, HB 1623, had gone down in an unexpected "surprise" vote of the New Hampshire House.

"New Hampshire Says No to Drugs" was the headline, I'm told. The bill being referred to was HB 1567, a well-intentioned but badly-conceived piece of legislation that only received one vote in committee. As a matter of fact, I testified against it myself on behalf of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy. It was placed without objection on the consent calendar, where it died in a single vote along with hundreds of other bills deemed unworthy of a floor debate. Even the bill's sponsors were accepting of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee's decision to pursue HB 1623 and drop HB 1567; either could have pulled HB 1567 from the consent calendar and spoken for it on the floor, but they did not choose to do so. My point is that the death of this bill was not news.

But don't take my word for the committee's. Here's the blurb from the House calendar:

HB 1567-FN, permitting the possession of marijuana in certain quantities. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.

Rep. John E Tholl for Criminal Justice and Public Safety: This bill would have allowed any person to posses .25 oz of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes and would exempt them from arrest. The committee felt that the appropriate bill to discuss the reduction in penalties would be HB 1623 and, therefore, found this bill Inexpedient to Legislate. Vote 14-1.

Over 200 bills were passed or killed in one unanimous "consent calendar" vote March 5. Although you may have seen it on the news, there was no news in the defeat of HB 1567.

The real vote on HB 1623 is expected next week, so stay tuned!

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