New Hampshire could be moving closer to legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Yesterday, lawmakers in the New Hampshire House approved a legalization bill. Although this is in many ways a big step forward for the state’s legalization movement, there are still a number of potentially big roadblocks before full-scale legalization becomes a reality.
House Approves Legalization Bill
Yesterday, the New Hampshire House voted in favor of a bill to legalize the use of marijuana. Specifically, the bill won by a 207-139 margin.
Now, the bill will move on the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee. And then after that, it will also have to move on to additional rounds of review, voting, and approval.
The question of cannabis legalization has become increasingly important in New Hampshire in recent years. One reason for the growing sense of urgency on this issue is that many of New Hampshire’s neighbors are either legalizing or considering legalizing marijuana.
This includes states like Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont, that have legalized recreational marijuana in one form or another.
In any case, lawmakers in New Hampshire have been seriously considering the question in recent months. The bill approved by the House this week would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Additionally, it would make it legal for adults to grow a limited number of plants.
However, the bill did not include anything to set up a regulatory system for actual retail. Such a bill would make it legal for adults to possess and consume weed, but would not provide any framework for cannabis businesses to sell weed.
Support for Legalization
As reported by the AP, a new survey from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that over two-thirds of New Hampshire adults support legalizing marijuana.
Similarly, there are a number of lawmakers who are becoming increasingly outspoken in their support of legalization. For example, Rep. Keith Ammon told the AP that legalizing weed would carry important symbolic value.
“It looks bad for the reputation of the Live Free or Die to be an island of prohibition surrounded by a sea of freedom,” he said.
Similarly, Rep. Renny Cushing said that legalization could have important implications for tourism in the state. Conversely, failing to legalize could have a negative effect, according to Cushing.
“The idea that New Hampshire is going to be this sole place where it’s not an option available I think will have a detrimental impact on the state,” he said. “The time is now. We need to move forward.”
Roadblocks Facing Current Legalization Bill
Interestingly, one of the potential roadblocks facing this most current bill is actually an effort to study and prepare for legalization.
Last year, New Hampshire established a commission to study pathways to legalization. The group’s final report is reportedly not due until November.
In the meantime, opponents of New Hampshire’s current legalization bill are calling for the state to hold off on any actions until the commission completes its study and makes its recommendations,
On that timeline, November would be the earliest that lawmakers could begin taking concrete action toward legalization.