NH House votes to legalize marijuana
By CHRISTIAN WADE
THE PLACE DU CENTER CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – The GOP-led New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to approve legalizing the growing and possession of marijuana for personal use in the state, but the measure must survive the likelihood of ‘a veto from Governor Chris Sununu.
The House on Thursday approved legislation, which would allow adults 21 and over to own up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The bipartisan measure was passed by a vote of 241-113, which is more than necessary for a veto-proof majority.
“This is really a bipartisan issue with strong and broad support from Granite Staters,” State Representative Mark Warden, R-Manchester, said in remarks ahead of the vote. “The war on cannabis is a war against people. These people are our neighbors and our constituents.
Under the plan, marijuana could be “offered” to others, but could not be sold. Retail jar stores, similar to those in neighboring states, would also not be allowed.
There would also be penalties for public consumption and non-compliance with home growing rules, such as growing pots in an area visible to the public.
Granted, this is not the first time that the 400-member House of Representatives has approved legislation legalizing marijuana. In 2014, the Democratic-controlled House first approved a legalization bill, but it was not passed by the Senate. Similar proposals were tabled at each session, but failed to gain traction.
The state has also licensed medical marijuana dispensaries since 2013, but growing drugs for personal use is still a crime.
Lawmakers approved a bill in 2019 that would have allowed medical pot patients to develop their own supply, but Sununu vetoed it, citing public safety concerns.
In October, the legislature’s criminal justice committee rejected proposals that would legalize and tax marijuana. Republicans who voted against the measure cited their opposition to the taxation of marijuana products.
To date, at least 18 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territory of Guam have legalized recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-six states have medical marijuana programs.
New Hampshire has often been described as a “cannabis island” with neighboring states and Canada allowing for recreational marijuana cultivation and retail sale.
While the Granite State decriminalized possession of marijuana in 2017, recreational cultivation and sale are not permitted.
The House-approved legalization bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.