Reformers Concede HB 1623 Battle, Celebrate Progress
Concord, NH -- After being rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 4-0 vote last Thursday, HB 1623 was defeated this afternoon in a voice vote by the full Senate. The bill, which would have reduced the penalty for possessing less than a quarter ounce of marijuana, had been marked for death since it received a rare veto threat from Governor Lynch following passage by the House.
Matt Simon, executive director of the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, was not discouraged by the result. "A strong majority of voters now understand that our marijuana laws were written for the 1970's, and that they need to be updated for the 21st Century," he explained. "Through this process, I think we have demonstrated that a reform of this nature is both wise and inevitable."
Simon cited the 193-141 House vote as a turning point for marijuana reform in New Hampshire. "It's tough to raise this kind of issue in an election year," he said, "but given the results from our recent poll, we're confident that decision-makers will catch up with public opinion when the next opportunity arises."
The poll of 625 registered voters conducted by telephone April 7 to 8 by Mason-Dixon Research for the Marijuana Policy Project and NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy found that New Hampshire voters support an even more ambitious penalty reduction by a 53 to 34 percent margin. A breakdown on the poll, which asked voters if they supported reducing the penalty for possessing up to a full ounce of marijuana to a violation punished by a $100 fine, is available at NHCommonSense.org/poll.
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