New Hampshire House Approves Cannabis Legalization Bill

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis, sending the bill to the state Senate for consideration.
New Hampshire

The New Hampshire House of Representatives on April 7 approved bipartisan legislation to legalize cannabis for adults. The measure, House Bill 639 from Republican Representative Jason Osborne and Representative Matt Wilhelm, his Democratic colleague, was approved by the House by a vote of 272-109 late on Thursday. The legislation, which received initial approval from members of the House in February, now heads to the New Hampshire Senate for consideration.

“I am pleased to see New Hampshire take a step toward relieving gangsters and thugs from control of this market, keeping dangerous untested products away from consumers, and protecting children from harmful age-inappropriate products,” Osborne said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.

If passed by the state Senate and signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, House Bill 639 would legalize the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for adults aged 21 and older. If adopted, New Hampshire would join the 21 states that have already legalized recreational marijuana, making the state the last in New England to end the prohibition on cannabis.

The legislation directs the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, which would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Commission, to regulate the commercial cultivation, processing, safety testing and distribution of cannabis. The measure also sets a 15% tax on cannabis cultivation, with revenue raised by the tax dedicated largely to the state’s pension liability and New Hampshire’s education trust fund. Revenue raised from cannabis taxes would also be used to fund substance misuse programs and law enforcement training.

Under current New Hampshire law, simple possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of cannabis is a civil offense subject to a fine of up to $100. Possession of cannabis in amounts greater than ¾ of an ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $350.

“With the decisive passage of HB 639, the New Hampshire House has sent a strong message that this is the year to legalize adult-use cannabis in the Granite State,” Wilhelm said 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 Cannabis in New Hampshire Failed

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. Supporters of HB 639 hope this year will be different.

“New Hampshire remains the only state in New England that has failed to legalize cannabis, while our neighbors benefit from increased revenue and their cannabis users benefit from safer testing and regulation of the product,” he continued. “Legalization of adult possession of small amounts of cannabis is the right thing to do for New Hampshire and we must get it done in 2023.”

While HB 639 was approved by the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a wide margin, the state Senate is less likely to vote in favor of the bill. The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, however, including from Republican Senator Keith Murphy and Democrats Senator Becky Whitley and Senator Donovan Fenton, according to a report from The Center Square.

“Prohibition has proven over and over to be a failed public policy,” Murphy said in a statement. “It is especially ineffective when all of our surrounding states have already legalized marijuana possession and use. Investigating and prosecuting cannabis possession is a terrible waste of tax dollars. For these reasons, I am encouraging my Senate colleagues to support the bill.”

If the proposal is approved by the upper chamber of the state legislature, Sununu has indicated he will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. If he does, the legislature would then have an opportunity to override the veto.

  1. There’s no way that’s happening, Chris Sununu is the son of John Sununu, who was Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan..

    There’s no fucking way this gets legalized in New Hampshire man……

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    1. As a mom of 5 in VT, with 4 military kids.. VT IS basically ” hippie state,”
      struggling with obtaining & keeping a viable Workforce , provides unending welfare to anyone coming here, & is 420 friendly.
      I have seen Vermont go downhill as a decent place to live after becoming 420 friendly. We have gained 900 more homeless people since 2020 (from other states) due to the lack of welfare cutoff, and these people are not only a drain on the state financially, but many of them are mentally ill, or cast-away from their own states of origin, & many are drug users.
      So…Go ahead NH, legalize the crap for the reason, “everyone else is doing it..prohibition doesn’t work..” mindless reasoning!
      It doesn’t work cuz people are basically lawless & immoral in that pleasure is more important than what’s good 4our society. ..NOT gonna have overall positive effects on people & youth to legalize it.

      Medical professionals have documented over 40 years, marijuana has always been shown to be a Gateway drug & has long term cumulative effects on cognition & brain development in kids n adults. The minimization of these facts, and what the drug does to the developing brain of infants, and in children who use the substance that is readily available to them, is dumbing down our American public.

      If New Hampshire thinks that somehow things will be better for them than another state’s, statistics, WAKE UP!

      There will be an increase in buzzed driving, and other things that adversely affect the safety of our roadways, our schools, and Society in general. I have seen it happen in Vermont.
      You can take that slogan, “smoke weed everyday”, and you can legally promote & do it. But you’re going to reap havoc and chaos on the economy, & NH families for allowing it to happen in the state of NH.

      Why not ask the parents of five teenagers who were seriously injured a weekend ago in VT..9th and 10th graders, driving buzzed driving after smoking marijuana. The car a teen was driving flipped six times, and put kids in critical condition in the hospital.. one of them is in a coma and will have a long period of recovery if the kid ever wakes up!
      Yeah NH, go ahead and do it, legalize the garbage, and watch all hell break loose! It will make it easier for young people to access.
      And people young and old will also probably mix it with alcohol and potentiate the effects of both substances in their system, producing a greater high, but irresponsible, potentially dangerous activities that result from people who get high!

      America is a decadent, addictive, & violent society. Watch crime go up too! People will have the crap on their kitchen table, and kids will grab it. You can’t regulate what people do in their homes. And once people start smoking weed, they “don’t care anymore about anything.”
      Tess, RN, BS, Clinician Child & Adolescent Services..

  3. The surrounding States do not want NH to legalize Recreational cannabis! It will destroy all of the surrounding States’ cannabis economy due to NH’s tax system. There is no sales or sin tax in NH and no one sees them changing their tax system for recreational cannabis. Thus, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine will get hit the most. There would be no way that these States would be able to compete with pricing. Now Vermont and Maine has taken a very “high quality” almost luxury type approach to separate themselves only allowing organic local farms to produce for the State, however even then many will still flock to the cheapest price. Frankly, no grower or seller in Vermont or Maine that I know wants NH to legalize recreational cannabis. It would kill our very small businesses.

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