Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 to reject a bill that would allow home cultivation of up to two mature cannabis plants and 12 seedlings by registered patients and caregivers. Instead of listening to the numerous patients who testified at the public hearing, the committee recommended that HB 1476 be sent to “interim study,” which would effectively kill it for the year. But there’s still hope. Next, the bill is expected to receive a vote in the full Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed a public position on the bill.
This bill is critically important because many patients are unable to afford the products that are available at dispensaries, which are not covered by health insurance. For some patients, home cultivation is simply the best, most affordable option. There is no need for further study before allowing limited home cultivation by registered patients and caregivers, especially now that it is becoming clear that access to cannabis is a key to addressing the opiate crisis.
We have been expressing concerns about the make-up of New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study commission since last spring, when the bill creating that commission was rewritten by the Senate to exclude reform supporters. We even asked Gov. Chris Sununu to veto the bill last July rather than create a study commission that would not be viewed as credible by the general public.
Sadly, although we have tried to work with this commission, it has now become clear that our initial concerns were well founded. In particular, it has been very frustrating to watch as the commission’s chairman, Rep. Patrick Abrami, has used his influence as vice-chair of the Ways and Means Committee — including by misleading the committee about testimony presented to the study commission — in an attempt to prevent HB 656 from advancing to the Senate.
We believe the people of New Hampshire deserve better. Please sign our petition now to join us in urging House Speaker Gene Chandler to replace Rep. Abrami with an unbiased legislator.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill to make marijuana legal for adults on Tuesday by a vote of 207-139. The bill will now move to the House Ways and Means Committee before moving on to the Senate.
HB 656, which was introduced last session by Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford), would make possession of three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana legal for adults aged 21 and older. Home cultivation of up to three mature and three immature plants would be legal for adults as well.
Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature voted overwhelmingly to replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with civil penalties. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed the bill into law.
New Hampshire will finally take a critical step toward living up to its motto today as HB 640 takes effect, and the “Live Free or Die” state becomes the 22nd state — and the final New England state — to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today to thank him for signing the decriminalization bill and to encourage him to support ending marijuana prohibition.
MPP has been working with our allies in Concord since 2008 to achieve this victory. We greatly appreciate all of the support you have provided over the years!
Unfortunately, we know that our work in New Hampshire is far from complete. A commission has been formed to study marijuana legalization, and most of the commission’s members are skeptical if not downright hostile to our position.
Yesterday afternoon, with a stroke of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s pen, the “Live Free or Die” state took a big step toward living up to its motto on marijuana policy. HB 640 is now officially on the books and will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state, and the final New England state, to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.
Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu also decided to sign HB 215, which will create a study commission that we fear will be one-sided. However, we understand the governor’s reluctance to veto a study commission, so we are not going to be too critical of his decision.
The decriminalization victory would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we’d like to thank attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible marijuana policy reforms.
On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu signed an important bill into law that will expand the number of seriously ill patients who qualify for New Hampshire’s medical cannabis law.
Beginning on August 27, HB 160 will add PTSD to the medical cannabis law and make other improvements to the program. You can read a summary of the new law here.
In other news, the governor’s office informed us this morning that they have not yet received the decriminalization bill, HB 640. This is not cause for concern, since there are often delays this time of year as the Legislature’s work concludes. Gov. Sununu has clearly indicated that he “looks forward” to signing that bill when it reaches his desk.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved HB 640 on Wednesday (318-36), bringing New Hampshire one step closer to becoming the final state in New England to decriminalize marijuana possession. The bill will now be considered by the Senate.
HB 640, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) and a bipartisan group of 10 co-sponsors, would reduce the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, which is currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000, to a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within three years, and $350 for a third or subsequent offense within three years of two previous offenses.
HB 640 has faced much less opposition than similar bills that failed in recent years. Only one person testified against it at a public hearing on February 1, and the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which voted 7-6 last year to kill a similar measure (HB 1631), approved HB 640 14-2. Additionally, Gov. Chris Sununu has consistently said he supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, whereas previous governors have been opposed.
More than seven out of 10 Granite Staters (72%) would like to see the Legislature decriminalize or legalize marijuana, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in July 2016.