The New Hampshire House of Representatives took a major step forward today, voting 170-162 to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for use by adults in the “Live Free or Die” state.
Based on Colorado’s Amendment 64, HB 492 would end New Hampshire’s failed prohibition of marijuana and replace it with a system of sensible regulation. This is the first time any state legislative chamber has approved such a bill, so it’s great to see that New Hampshire legislators have been willing to evolve along with the shift in public opinion!
Next the bill will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. A second vote by the House will be held in February or March, and if HB 492 passes a second time, it will head to the Senate.
It’s been exactly nine years since MPP provided me with a grant to move to Colorado and begin laying the groundwork for a future statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. All of that work came to fruition yesterday when legal marijuana retail stores throughout the state opened their doors to begin selling marijuana to adults.
I wanted to share one of my favorite pictures that I took of the first sale. This is Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, who appeared in an Amendment 64 TV ad discussing his inability to legally access marijuana because his condition was not covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana law. As of yesterday, he can — and he did.
As I said during our news conference yesterday — which was attended by dozens of state, national, and international media outlets — adults are buying marijuana in every state in the nation. Only in Colorado are they now buying it in legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of in the underground market. MPP is working to change that by passing similar laws in states around the country over the next few years. With your help, we are confident we can do it. This historic event is getting international attention.
Here is just one example of the amazing coverage surrounding the end of marijuana prohibition in Colorado:
The New Hampshire House will kick off its 2014 session Wednesday, January 8, by voting on a bill that would end the prohibition of marijuana in New Hampshire. HB 492, modeled after Colorado’s Amendment 64, would allow adults to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. The bill would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana production and sale. Legal sales to adult marijuana users began yesterday in Colorado, where marijuana possession and cultivation of up to six plants has been legal since January 2013. By adopting the similar policy proposed by HB 492, New Hampshire could save tens of millions of dollars in enforcement costs and generate up to $30 million in annual tax revenue. In October, the WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire voters support HB 492. If you live in New Hampshire, please urge your state representatives to vote YES on HB 492!
The first legal adult marijuana sales will begin Wednesday, January 1 in Colorado. Leaders of the initiative that made marijuana legal, Amendment 64, will hold a news conference at 7:30 a.m. MT at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver — a licensed marijuana retail store with on-site cultivation facility — followed by the first sale at 8 a.m. MT. The licensed marijuana retail store is 3D Cannabis Center, located at 4305 Brighton Blvd. in Denver.
The first customer will be Sean Azzariti, a Denver-based Iraq war veteran who can now legally use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Azzariti appeared in a Yes on 64 campaign television ad last year in which he discussed how legalization would benefit those suffering from PTSD — a condition that is not covered under Colorado’s medical marijuana law despite repeated efforts to add it.
This is sure to be an historic event. We’ll keep you posted on news coverage as the day unfolds.
“Adults are using marijuana in every state across the nation. In Colorado, they will now be purchasing it from legitimate businesses instead of in the underground market,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, which helped lead the legalization campaign.
On November 5, Colorado passed Prop AA, a measure that outlines the specific taxes to be imposed on the sale of recreational marijuana. The measure works in conjunction with Amendment 64, the ballot measure passed last year that taxes and regulates marijuana for adult use. Prop AA is an important step to establish taxes to fund the regulation of the marijuana industry. Although Colorado has ended their prohibition of marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law. The DOJ announced in July that it will not interfere in Colorado’s implementation of a regulated marijuana industry, but only if it adheres to the regulations set out in Amendment 64 with a fully-funded regulatory body, among other criteria.
In order to pay for regulation and oversight, Prop AA establishes a 15% excise tax imposed on the sale of marijuana from a cultivation facility and a 10% sales tax imposed when a consumer purchases marijuana from a retail store. This tax revenue will allow the state to monitor marijuana sales and implement the regulations set out in Amendment 64. The revenue will also go toward the Building Excellent Schools Today program, which will improve infrastructure, technology, and construction of new facilities for Colorado Public Schools.