Decriminalize Marijuana
Marijuana Decriminalization - Issue Summary

Should New Hampshire decriminalize or legalize marijuana?

decriminalize marijuana

By: LFDA Editor

Despite repeated attempts in recent years, the Legislature has been unable to pass legislation that would allow adults to purchase and use small amounts of marijuana.

Under the current law, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, and a $2,000 fine.

Supporters of marijuana decriminalization and legalization argue that marijuana is no more harmful that alcohol, which the state already profits from through taxes.  Full legalization could also minimize the black market, which supports other criminal activity.

Opponents of marijuana legalization argue that any tax revenues for the state would be minimal compared to the costs of lost productivity, health care, and law enforcement if marijuana use increases. The history of alcohol and tobacco sales suggests that marijuana sellers would advertise to increase marijuana use, particularly among youth.

An April 2014 WMUR-Granite State poll found 61% of NH adults support marijuana decriminalization, with 24% opposed and 3% neutral. Sixteen states, including Massachusetts, have decriminalization laws, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

2015 Legislation

Rep. Larry Phillips (D-Keene) is the primary sponsor of HB 150, a 2015 bill that establishes a committee to study the legalization of marijuana.

Rep. Wayne Moynihan is the primary sponsor of HB 421, a 2015 bill that authorizes the university of New Hampshire to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

Rep. Elizabeth Edwards is the primary sponsor of HB 494, a 2015 bill that prohibits the designation of industrial hemp as a controlled substance.

Rep. Adam Schroadter is the primary sponsor of HB 618, a 2015 bill that reduces the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a violation, and reduces the penalty for possession of other amounts of marijuana. The bill also establishes a misdemeanor penalty for cultivation of 6 or fewer marijuana plants.

Sen. Molly Kelly is the primary sponsor of SB 106, a 2015 bill that prohibits the sale, use, or possession of synthetic drugs, such as "spice." An amended version of the bill passed the Senate (23-0) on February 12, 2015.

2014 Legislation

Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) was the primary sponsor of HB 1625, a bill to decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. Anyone convicted would be subject to a $100 fine. This bill passed the House but was rejected by the Senate. 

Rep. Kris Robertson (D-Keene) sponsored HB 1446, a bill to ban synthetic marijuana. The bill was referred for Interim Study by the House.

HB 1611, sponsored by Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) would also ban synthetic marijuana. The bill was killed in the House.

2013 Legislation

Three bills related to marijuana legalization and decriminalization were proposed in the 2013 legislative session:

HB 621  - a bill that categorized possession of less than a quarter-ounce of marijuana as a 'violation' and punishable by a fine of up to $200 - came the closest to passage. It passed the House (214-115), but was killed in the Senate (voice vote). Sen. Donna Soucy (D - District 18) told the Concord Monitor the bill failed to address repeat offenders and the state lacked a drug awareness program for under-18 offenders. 

HB 492 legalized the personal use of up to one ounce of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older; authorized the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities; and imposed a tax on the sale of marijuana. The House killed that bill March 26, 2014.

HB 337 - a bill that removed the criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana - was killed in the House. 

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Take Action

If you are interested in marijuana decriminalization and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action
  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issue
  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

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Do you think marijuana should be decriminalized?  Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

Rep. Larry Phillips is the primary sponsor of HB 150, a 2015 bill that establishes a committee to study the legalization of marijuana.

Rep. Adam Schroadter is the primary sponsor of HB 618, a 2015 bill that reduces the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a violation, and reduces the penalty for possession of other amounts of marijuana. The bill also establishes a misdemeanor penalty for cultivation of 6 or fewer marijuana plants.

News

Jan. 30, 2015
Union Leader: Bill seeks to study pot legalization
April 17, 2014
Concord Monitor: Senate refuses to consider marijuana bill
Feb. 26, 2014
Concord Monitor: Generation Gap: On marijuana, moderation makes sense
Concord Monitor: Generation Gap: Marijuana is absolutely a gateway drug and should not be decriminalized
Feb. 24, 2014
Eagle-Tribune: Marijuana issue returning for legislative hearing
Feb. 22, 2014
WMUR: Colo. marijuana revenues fuel legalization efforts
Feb. 14, 2014
Concord Monitor: Opponents of marijuana decriminalization face tough questions
Nashua Telegraph: At statehouse hearing, New Hampshire marijuana law imposing jail time for possession called a dinosaur
Feb. 13, 2014
WMUR: Examining the possibility of legal marijuana in New Hampshire
Feb. 11, 2014
Union Leader: Gov. Hassan says she smoked marijuana while in college
Feb. 6, 2014
Union Leader: State estimate of potential marijuana tax revenue includes consumers under 21
WMUR: Bill to legalize marijuana in NH has voter support
Feb. 1, 2014
Union Leader: State agency says legal marijuana could generate $26.6 million to $39.9 million in tax revenue
Jan. 31, 2014
Concord Monitor: If state legalizes pot, banks run risk if they accept deposits
Nashua Telegraph: NH urged to slow down on road to legalizing marijuana
Seacoast Online: Pot reform group touts health-based debate
WMUR: Marijuana legalization debated in Concord
Jan. 30, 2014
WMUR: Marijuana legalization debated in Concord
Keene Sentinel: Youth pot smoking worries NH state officials, local groups
Foster's Daily Democrat: Pot reform group touts health-based debate in NH
Jan. 26, 2014
Concord Monitor: In New Hampshire, the beginning of a long debate over marijuana legalization
Jan. 24, 2014
Concord Monitor: Should NH legalize marijuana? A dozen views to consider
Jan. 21, 2014
Seacoast Online: Survey: 1 in 10 NH adolescents use marijuana
Jan. 18, 2014
WMUR: Study shows high rate of marijuana use among NH youth
Union Leader: Report says marijuana use high among young in NH
NHPR: Marijuana use among NH teens above national average
Eagle-Tribune: Hundreds tell Gov. Hassan to support legal marijuana
Jan. 17, 2014
Union Leader: Proposed changes to medical marijuana law in Granite State would restrict its use
WMUR: Governor pressured to change stance on marijuana legalization