New Hampshire Representative Dan Hynes announced on Facebook that he is officially switching parties from Republican to Independent due to his belief that the Republican party no longer values priorities such as the defense of the Constitution or individual freedom.
In his post, he explained that there were three examples that led to his decision. This included his disappointment that legislators could not protect both the rights of parents as well as children, and also the recent passage of a budget with spending of approximately 20%, explaining that it was rushed and people didn’t have enough time to read it thoroughly.
Another matter that influenced his decision involved Republicans voting against cannabis legalization in a near-unanimous vote. “It is clear they are out of touch with the overwhelming majority of their constituents, and that they do not respect or advocate for personal freedom,” Hynes explained. “I hope Republicans can get back to advocating for a smaller government. Until that happens, I will continue fighting for a smaller government that protects the constitutional rights of everyone as an independent.”
The bill that Hynes mentioned refers to House Bill 639, which was rejected on May 11 and would have legalized recreational cannabis, established a regulatory framework, established a 12.5% tax on cannabis products, implemented movement for cannabis revenue to fund research, education, and substance abuse programs, and more.
In May, Sen. William Gannon expressed his opposition for HB-639, claiming that legalization would “sell out the future of New Hampshire youth for money, as Judas sold out Jesus for a few shining coins.”
Following the bill’s rejection, Sen. Becky Whitley and Sen. Shannon Chandley released their personal statements on the issue. “Today’s failure to pass HB-639 means New Hampshire will continue to miss out on significant revenues, as our residents purchase their cannabis products in neighboring states, and will result in the continuation of significant harms caused by marijuana prohibition,” Whitley stated. “Granite Starters have already waited long enough for cannabis legalization in our state, and the Senate majority intends to make our citizens wait even longer.”
Earlier in January, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s office shared that a bipartisan approach to cannabis legalization would never reach Sununu’s desk. “It’s failed in the Senate repeatedly, in both Republican-held years and Democrat-held years,” the office stated. “With teen drug use and overdoses on the rise, it is not anticipated that the legislature will see this as a time to ignore the data and move it forward.”
However in May, Sununu released another statement about his support for cannabis legalization that focuses on harm reduction. “NH is the only state in New England where recreational use is not legal. Knowing that a majority of our residents support legalization, it is reasonable to assume change is inevitable. To ignore this reality would be shortsighted and harmful,” Sununu stated. “That is why, with the right policy and framework in place, I stand ready to sign a legalization bill that puts the State of NH in the driver’s seat, focusing on harm reduction—not profits.”
Sununu ended his statement with a firm outlook on what kind of cannabis legislation he will and won’t veto. “I am supportive of legalizing marijuana in the right way —with this legislature —rather than risk a poorly thought out framework that inevitably could pass under future governors or legislatures. Should the legislature pass future legalization bills without these provisions in place, they will be vetoed,” Sununu stated. “This is the best path forward for our state, and I stand ready and willing to work with the legislature so that we can deliver a legalization bill that is smart, sustainable, and retains the fabric and culture of our state.”
A poll published by the University of New Hampshire in March 2022 found that 74% of residents approve of cannabis legalization.