On Thursday, the New Hampshire Senate had a golden opportunity to reduce marijuana possession penalties, but they failed to seize it. Rather than passing SB 498, which had been amended by the House to decriminalize possession of one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana for first offenses, the Senate voted to send the bill to a conference committee. This committee will be comprised of three senators and four representatives, who will meet to discuss a possible compromise between the two chambers.
Sadly, the three senators Senate President Chuck Morse named to the committee have all opposed reducing marijuana possession penalties to a violation: Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), and Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia). Since a conference committee must unanimously agree on a final bill or else it simply dies, there is little reason for optimism. However, it is still very important for senators to hear from supporters.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please take a few minutes to find out how your senator voted on the previous decriminalization bill — then call your senator to say thanks or to express your displeasure.
It’s also important for people to understand that if Gov. Maggie Hassan had supported this bill in any way, the outcome would likely have been very different in the Senate. Fortunately, New Hampshire will be electing a new governor and several new state senators in November — stay tuned for updates as election season approaches!
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.
On this date two years ago, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed HB 573, making New Hampshire the last state in New England to approve a medical marijuana law. Unfortunately, so far this law has failed to benefit patients in any way. Some patients, including well-known patient-advocate Clayton Holton, have passed away while waiting for the law to take effect. Others, such as Ron Mitchell, have had no choice but to leave their families behind and move to another state in search of relief.
To raise awareness about the program’s many shortcomings, MPP has published Confusion, Delays, and Continued Arrests: A Two-Year Retrospective on New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” Law.
This report includes the most recent updates, analyzes why the law is not yet effective for patients, and makes recommendations for improving the law and policy moving forward.
As New Hampshire legislators move closer to achieving consensus in favor of decriminalization, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan says she remains opposed. She told the Nashua Telegraph last week that she did not support HB 618, a modest bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please take a moment to call her office today and urge her to change her mind!
MPP’s voter guide for the New Hampshire primary election has now been published. Click here to find out if the candidates on your ballot agree it’s time for a more sensible approach to marijuana. The election will take place next Tuesday, September 9 — one week from today — so mark your calendars now and don’t forget to vote!
There are many contrasts between the primary election candidates on marijuana policy. This is especially true on the Republican ballot, where reform advocate Andrew Hemingway is seeking the nomination for governor over Walt Havenstein. The winner will face Governor Maggie Hassan, who has been a tremendous disappointment to supporters of marijuana policy reform.
If you’ve been following New Hampshire’s reform efforts in recent years, you know that the 400-member House has been far ahead of the 24-member Senate and the governor’s office. Fortunately, four senators decided to retire this year, and this election presents a number of opportunities to improve the Senate.
In addition to the race for governor, there are several Republican state senate primaries where candidates’ positions are very different. Some of these races are expected to be very close, so your vote and your friends’ votes could easily be the difference between electing a reformer and electing a prohibitionist.
The New Hampshire House made history last Wednesday, January 15, when it became the first state legislative chamber in the U.S. to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use. Next, the revenue sections of HB 492 will be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t begin reaching out to New Hampshire state senators, who will begin considering this bill in April if it passes the House a second time.
If you live in New Hampshire, please email your senator today and ask him or her to support HB 492!
Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she would veto the bill, claiming that “it’s the wrong message to send to young people.” However, it is clear that your calls to her office are making an impact. WMUR has reported that Gov. Hassan is being strongly pressured to change her position.
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.
Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised she will veto the bill if it reaches her desk. “I just think it's the wrong message to send to young people,” she explained.
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.
Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill that made New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana!
MPP worked for seven years to bring about this victory. We funded local activists, retained lobbyists in the state capital, employed a full-time staffer outside the state capital, and dedicated significant resources to building public support and generating constituent pressure on elected officials. We also persevered despite our medical marijuana legislation being vetoed twice -- once in 2009, and then again in 2012.
The newly enacted law will allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain marijuana from four nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.
Even more exciting, medical marijuana is officially legal in all six states that comprise New England!
Passage of the New Hampshire bill marks MPP’s second major legislative victory this year (we also passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in Vermont), and we have a medical marijuana bill awaiting the signature of Gov. Quinn in Illinois.
Yesterday, the House and Senate granted final approval to the compromise version of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill. HB 573 will soon be printed and transmitted to the governor’s desk, and Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised to sign it into law. The Senate approved the bill in a voice vote, with no discussion, and the House voted 284-66 in favor, also with no discussion.
Many of us have mixed feelings about the details of HB 573 (summary is available here), but we should all agree that its passage represents a major step forward for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire. It’s unfortunate that patients will have to wait up to a year until ID cards are issued before they can receive legal protection, and it’s unfortunate that patients will not have legal access to medical marijuana until alternative treatment centers are open. However, we will strongly encourage the state health department to begin issuing ID cards and registering alternative treatment centers as soon as possible.
With Gov. Hassan’s signature, New Hampshire will become either the 19th or 20th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. (A similar bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.) MPP will continue working on this policy until New Hampshire patients have safe, legal access to medical marijuana!