New Hampshire House approves Cannabis Legalization Bill
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New Hampshire House approves Cannabis Legalization Bill

On April 7, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation to legalize adult cannabis. The House approved House Bill 639, a bipartisan measure from Republican Representative Jason Osborne, and his Democratic colleague Representative Matt Wilhelm late Thursday night. The legislation, which was approved by the House in February, now goes to the New Hampshire Senate. House Bill 639, by Chris Sununu would allow adults 21 years and older to possess and use small amounts of cannabis. If New Hampshire adopts House Bill 639, it will join 21 other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. This would make New Hampshire the 21st state in New England to do so. The legislation also directs the New Hampshire Liquor Commission to regulate the commercial cultivation, testing, safety testing, and distribution of cannabis. The measure also imposes a 15% tax upon cannabis cultivation. Revenue from the tax will be used mainly to pay the state’s pension liabilities and New Hampshire’s education trust funds. The revenue from cannabis taxes could also be used to fund substance abuse programs and law enforcement training. According to New Hampshire law, simple possession up to 3/4 ounces of cannabis is a civil offense punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a maximum of $100 fine. Possession of cannabis in quantities greater than 3/4 of an ounce is a misdemeanor that can lead to up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $350. Wilhelm stated in a statement. “Every year we fail to legalize marijuana, the state wastes valuable resources and ruins the lives of many young and poor Granite Staters by enforcing failed prohibition.”Previous attempts to legalize recreational marijuana in New Hampshire have also seen success in the House of Representatives but failed to gain approval in the state Senate. HB 639 supporters hope that this year will be different. “New Hampshire remains New England’s only state that has not legalized cannabis. While our neighbors enjoy increased revenue and their cannabis users benefit by safer testing and regulation, New Hampshire is still the only state that has not legalized cannabis.” he said. “Legalization of adult possession of small amounts of marijuana is the right thing to happen in New Hampshire. We must do it in 2023.” HB 639 was passed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives with a large majority. However, the Senate is less likely than the House to approve the bill. According to a report by The Center Square, the bill has bipartisan support in Senate. This includes Senator Keith Murphy, Senator Becky Whitley, and Senator Donovan Fenton. Murphy stated that prohibition has been repeatedly proven to be a failure of public policy. It is particularly ineffective considering that all of the surrounding states have legalized marijuana use and possession. It is a terrible use of tax dollars to investigate and prosecute cannabis possession. “For these reasons, I encourage my Senate colleagues to vote in favor of the bill.” Sununu indicated that he would veto the bill if the proposal is approved by the state legislature’s upper chamber. If he does, the legislature will have the opportunity to override his veto.


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