Research||Tax and Regulate

Controversial New Hampshire Marijuana Study Commission Holds First Meeting

On Tuesday, the inaugural meeting of the New Hampshire marijuana legalization study commission took place in Concord. The commission, which was created by the passage of HB 215, is tasked with studying the potential impacts of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults’ use.

MPP's Matt Simon released the following statement:

This commission has a fantastic opportunity to learn what is really happening in states that have pioneered sensible marijuana regulations. Sadly, the commission includes staunch opponents of reform such as the Association of Chiefs of Police and New Futures, but supportive organizations such as the ACLU-NH were excluded in the language of the final bill. Additionally, none of the six legislators who were appointed to the commission has ever publicly expressed support for ending marijuana prohibition.

Regardless of what this commission decides to recommend, most Granite Staters clearly recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and they’re ready for the state to start treating it that way.

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Prohibition

MPP's New Hampshire Voter Guide

There has never been a more important opportunity to advance marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire than this year’s general election, which is now less than a month away. Granite Staters overwhelmingly support reforming marijuana laws, and MPP’s newly published voter guide shows that legislators and candidates are finally getting the message!Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svg
This year, for the first time in New Hampshire history, both major party candidates for governor — Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu — have clearly stated their support for decriminalization. At this point, there does not appear to be a significant difference between Van Ostern and Sununu on marijuana policy, and either candidate would certainly be an upgrade over Gov. Maggie Hassan. A third candidate appearing on the ballot, Libertarian Max Abramson, supports legalization.
Even more exciting than the governor’s race is the prospect of improving the make-up of the state Senate, which has killed seven decriminalization bills since 2008. As the voter guide illustrates, several of the worst prohibitionist senators from last session are not seeking re-election, and many of the candidates seeking to replace them have much more enlightened positions on marijuana policy.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please mark your calendar for Nov. 8, and share the voter guide with as many people as possible on Facebook and other social media platforms!

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Prohibition

New Life for New Hampshire Decriminalization

The New Hampshire Senate killed HB 1631 in April, but last week the plan to reduce marijuana possession penalties to a violation was given new life in the House. In a 12-7 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee agreed to amend a Senate-approved bill, SB 498, by adding provisions that would decriminalize possession of one-quarter ounce of marijuana for first offenses.

We expect that the amended SB 498 will pass the House by a wide margin before it returns to the Senate. Last week, 14 out of 24 senators voted against decriminalizing one-half ounce or less of marijuana, so we will need at least three of these senators to vote in favor of SB 498 in order to pass it. We are optimistic that this can be achieved, in part because Gov. Maggie Hassan has indicated that she would be willing to sign a bill if it was limited to first offenses of one-quarter ounce or less.

The amended SB 498 is far from perfect, but even in this modest form it would prevent many Granite Staters from being arrested and hauled into court for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Please take a moment to follow up with your senator and urge him or her to support this compromise.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Man Dies While In Jail for Marijuana Possession

Just days after the New Hampshire House approved a bill that would remove the threat of arrest for low-level marijuana possession, a man in jail on a possession charge died of unknown causes in his cell.

NHPR reports:

A homeless man jailed for marijuana possession and unable to come up with the $100 cash bail was found dead in his cell at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester Sunday.

[caption id="attachment_9681" align="alignright" width="225"]pendleton Jeffrey Pendleton (Photo: NH-ACLU)[/caption]

Jeffrey Pendleton, 26, was found unconscious in his cell during a routine head count. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

In a press release Monday, jail officials say there were no apparent signs of distress.

An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

Pendleton had been in jail since Wednesday, a day after Nashua police arrested him on a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.

While the cause of death is currently unknown, this young man might still be alive if he hadn't been jailed for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

We need to make sure this never happens again in the Granite State. If you are a New Hampshire resident, please contact your senators and urge them to support decriminalizing marijuana possession.

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Research||Tax and Regulate

Vermont Voter Guide Published; Coalition Website Launched

As the Aug. 26 Vermont primary election approaches, it’s clear that momentum for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont continues to build. Governor Shumlin’s administration is currently working with the Rand Corporation to study the potential impacts of marijuana regulation, and many legislators are already convinced that marijuana should be treated similarly to alcohol.

If you have been wondering where candidates on your ballot stand on marijuana policy, today is your lucky day. Please click here to view MPP’s voter guide for the Vermont primary election.

Voting for favorable candidates is one important way to advance the issue, but we know that supporting good candidates is rarely enough to create real change on its own. We understand that it will take an organized, statewide effort to build support for this reform.

Accordingly, we are also very pleased to unveil the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana’s new website.

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Research||Tax and Regulate

New Hampshire Poll Shows Growing Support for Legalization

The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.

The survey found 55% percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53% in 2013 — and 67% approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.

The poll also found that three out of five New Hampshire adults (61%) support House Bill 1625, a measure approved by the State House of Representatives and now being considered by the Senate that would reduce the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

The poll of 510 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted March 24-April 1 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%. The entire poll is available at http://cola.unh.edu/survey-center/most-granite-staters-support-changes-states-marijuana-laws-4914.

 

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