Should New Hampshire 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.
Three bills related to marijuana legalization and decriminalization failed to pass 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. It was retained in committee (House Criminal Justice and Public Safety).
HB 337 - a bill that removed the criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana - was killed in the House.
Under the current law, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, and a $2,000 fine.
A recent WMUR-Granite State poll finds 48% of NH adults support legalization of marijuana for recreational use, with 45% opposed and 7% neutral.
Fourteen states, including Massachusetts, have decriminalization laws, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.