Five bills to be heard Thursday, one on Friday
The New Hampshire House of Representatives kicked off the new year by narrowly voting down a 2021 bill to legalize cannabis and create a regulated market (HB 237) and then overwhelmingly approving a different bill (HB 629) legalizing home possession and cultivation. HB 629 now heads to the far more challenging Senate.
Next week, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be holding hearings on six different bills to improve cannabis policies, including proposals to kick legalization to voters.
Last year, the committee, chaired by Daryl Abbas, recommended killing legalization bills, but now Abbas has proposed his own vision of legalization, HB 1598. However, his model is unfeasible due to federal law. It would only allow cannabis to be sold through state-run stores. Until federal law changes, that’s a non-starter: states cannot require staff to commit federal felonies by selling cannabis. Doing so would be preempted.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will also consider three resolutions (CACRs) to refer cannabis legalization to voters, via a constitutional amendment. They each require 60% in both the House and Senate, and then two-thirds of the popular vote.
Both the legalization bills and the three CACRs will receive hearings on Thursday, January 20 in person at the State House, Reps Hall (107 North Main Street, Concord) — with the first hearing scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Abbas’ state-run monopoly and the last one scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will also hold a hearing on Friday, January 21 at 1:45 p.m. at Legislative Office Building (33 N State Street, Concord), Rooms 202-204 on prohibiting law enforcement from using the scent of cannabis as probable cause for a search. Cannabis has already been decriminalized in New Hampshire. Law enforcement shouldn’t be able to invade personal privacy — and initiate a risky and insulting stop — over the supposed scent of a plant that has been decriminalized.
If you’re not comfortable attending in person but want to make your voice heard on any or all of these bills, you can email comments to HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us.
For the full list of bills, a short summary, and the times of each hearing, check out this summary from the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.