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.

2014 Legislation

Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) is 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) is sponsoring 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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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

Citing a Senate rule on not considering bills killed in the first year of the two-year legislative session, the Senate rejected HB 1625. Despite passing in the House (215-92), the bill was effectively killed. 

HB 492 was deemed Inexpedient to Legislate (192-140) by the House on March 26, 2014.

HB 1446 was referred for Interim Study by the House. HB 1611 did not make it out of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

News

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
Jan. 16, 2014
Union Leader: House gives initial OK to legalizing small amounts of marijuana, but veto promised
Seacoast Online: NH House gives preliminary OK to marijuana
NHPR: NH House votes in favor of legalizing marijuana; bill goes to Ways & Means
Nashua Telegraph: NH House backs legalization of up to 1 ounce of marijuana
Foster's Daily Democrat: Tough row to hoe for recreational pot bill
Eagle-Tribune: NH House gives initial OK to legalizing marijuana
Concord Monitor: New Hampshire House passes marijuana legalization
WMUR: NH House votes in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana
Jan. 15, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH House voting on decriminalizing marijuana
Jan. 14, 2014
WMUR: Governor says she would veto marijuana legalization
Jan. 13, 2014
WMUR: Marijuana debate heats up in NH House
Jan. 6, 2014
Seacoast Online: Debate likely on gambling, legalizing pot in upcoming NH session
Dec. 31, 2013
Seacoast Online: Legalized pot up for vote in New Hampshire
Citizen of Laconia: NH House to vote on legalizing up to 1 oz. of pot
September 20, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: NH panel in favor of legalizing up to an ounce of marijuana
May 3, 2013

Concord Monitor: NH Senate kills bill to decriminalize marijuana
March 21, 2013
Patch.com: House votes to decriminalize marijuana
March 13, 2013
Union Leader: Reps reject bill that would have eased marijuana laws
February 14, 2013
Union Leader: Marijuana hearing brings out all sides
NHPR: Need to solve NH's budget woes? Rep says legalize, tax marijuana
December 18, 2012
NHPR: Easing of marijuana laws complicates parents' advice to kids
December 12, 2012
Business Insider: These are the next states that could legalize marijuana
December 7, 2012
Patch.com: Marijuana regulations among legislative service requests
November 14, 2012
Huffington Post: New England lawmakers prepare for marijuana decriminalization
September 18, 2012
New American: NH jury nullifies major marijuana case
June 22, 2012
WMUR: Lynch vetoes medical marijuana, voter ID bills
June 7, 2012
Concord Monitor: Medical marijuana bill passes Senate
April 29, 2012
WMUR: Senate to determine fate of marijuana bill
Concord Monitor: Law enforcement resisting pot bill
April 20, 2012
WMUR: NH Senate considers hemp farming bill
Union Leader: Hearing on decriminalizing marijuana draws a crowd
Concord Monitor: House panel okays medical marijuana bill
April 19,2012

Boston Globe: NH Senate weighing decriminalizing marijuana
March 28, 2012
Union Leader: Marijuana backers seek veto override
March 12, 2012
NHPR: Marijuana Decriminalization Clears House
March 8, 2012

WMUR: House votes to decriminalize marijuana by 1 vote
March 5, 2012
Concord Monitor: NH House votes on marijuana decriminalization
February 14, 2012

AlterNet: 13 states working toward smart, sane marijuana laws
February 3, 2012
The Weed Blog: HB 1526 would decriminalize, not legalize marijuana possession