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.
Despite overwhelming public support for reducing New Hampshire’s draconian marijuana penalties, today New Hampshire senators voted 14-10 to kill this year’s marijuana decriminalization bill. This marked the seventh time since 2008 that the House has passed a decriminalization bill only to watch it be shot down by prohibitionists in the Senate.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please take a moment to thank or criticize your senator for his or her vote.
Fortunately, there is a bright side: Election season is just around the corner, and three prohibitionist senators have already said they will not be running for re-election. Also, Gov. Hassan is leaving the governor’s office to run for U.S. Senate, so New Hampshire will have a great opportunity this year to finally elect a governor who is willing to demonstrate real leadership on marijuana policy.
We have lost another battle with HB 1631, but don’t despair! With statewide polls now showing 62% support for legalization, it is only a matter of time before we prevail and end New Hampshire’s foolish, counterproductive war on marijuana.
Yesterday evening, despite a negative recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the New Hampshire House of Representatives kept its streak of passing marijuana decriminalization bills alive when it overturned the committee and approved HB 1631 in a voice vote. Sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), this sensible bill would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable only by a fine. The House has now passed decriminalization bills seven times dating back to 2008.
Every other New England state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to pass any of the six decriminalization proposals that have been approved by the House. Last year, the Senate nearly reached a compromise on a bill similar to HB 1631, but it was tabled on the last day of session.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please send your senator an email in support of this bill.
It’s been a tough year for marijuana policy reform efforts in New Hampshire. The House has already killed several bills seeking to improve the state’s marijuana laws, including two bills that would have made marijuana legal for adult use.
Fortunately, there is one important bill that still has a reasonable chance of passing into law. Sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), HB 1631 would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable only by a fine.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please send your representatives an email in support of this bill today!
Every other New England state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the Vermont Senate recently passed a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults. New Hampshire residents overwhelmingly support legalization, as evidenced by a recent poll that found 62% support and only 30% opposed. However, it should be stressed that HB 1631 does not legalize marijuana — it would merely reduce penalties for possession, putting New Hampshire’s marijuana laws more nearly into line with those found in neighboring states.