Tuesday’s primary election in New Hampshire produced remarkably positive results for those of us who care about reforming the state’s marijuana laws.
The New Hampshire Senate has been the biggest roadblock facing reformers since the House first approved a decriminalization bill in 2008. This year, with four out of 24 senators retiring, the balance of power finally appears to be tipping in our favor. Here are a couple of examples:
- In Senate District 15, reform advocate Dan Feltes (D-Concord) won by a large margin Tuesday against a candidate who was wishy-washy on marijuana policy. Feltes is now very likely to replace a retiring senator who has been, at best, a fair-weather friend on medical marijuana.
- In Senate District 12, a reform advocate won a close race against a prohibitionist. Former Rep. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), who voted for ending marijuana prohibition in 2012, defeated a current representative who has voted against both medical marijuana and decriminalization. Avard will face incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), whose record has been inconsistent on marijuana policy, in November.
Finally, although Andrew Hemingway did not win the nomination for governor, he did receive a respectable 37%, despite being outspent by 10:1. In the final debate, Hemingway made a strong case for decriminalization, and eventual primary winner Walt Havenstein took an open-minded position, saying “I'm in favor of at least looking at that … I certainly would consider it.”
Many more races will be decided on November 4. We will post a general election voter guide soon.
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.