New Hampshire Senate Delays Action on Marijuana Legalization Bill

Legalization in New Hampshire just suffered a big setback.
New Hampshire Senate Delays Action on Marijuana Legalization Bill
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Throughout much of this year, New Hampshire lawmakers have been considering a bill to legalize recreational weed. But now, after some initial successes, the bill has now stalled out. Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate referred the bill back to the Judiciary Committee and voted to delay any further consideration of a recreational bill until December or early 2020.

Recreational Bill Stalls in the Senate

After receiving a House-approved recreational bill earlier this year, the New Hampshire Senate did not debate the piece of legislation yesterday. Instead, Senate lawmakers sent the bill back to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

As a result, legalization in 2019 is all but off the table for the Granite State. As per the Associated Press, there is technically a chance that lawmakers could return to the issue in December of this year.

But New Hampshire Public Radio clarified that the Senate’s vote more realistically means that nothing will happen on the recreational front until 2020.

“Although we may disagree on whether the prohibition of marijuana has been a success, or whether we should remain an island within New England, we all agree that this decision cannot be made lightly and without further consideration,” Senator Martha Hennessey told NHPR.

The Senate’s decision comes after the bill initially saw some limited success. Specifically, the bill cleared the House of Representatives in April. That month, the bill won by a 200-163 margin.

However, the bill ultimately seemed poised to fail. That’s largely because Governor Chris Sununu was very clear that he opposed the bill. Making matters worse, the bill did not receive enough votes in the House to override a potential veto from Sununu.

An Island of Prohibition

As a result of the Senate’s recent decision, New Hampshire will remain one of the only states in New England without any form of legal recreational cannabis. In fact, New Hampshire is now surrounded by weed-legal governments.

Recreational weed is up and running in Maine and Massachusetts. Additionally, recreational weed is legal in Vermont, although the state does not yet have an established retail system.

And even New Hampshire’s northernmost border puts it next to Canada, one of the first nations in the world to legalize weed across the board.

Even beyond New Hampshire’s bordering neighbors, legalization seems poised to grow. Particularly in New Jersey and New York.

Although legalization in 2019 has largely fizzled out in New York, lawmakers and public advocates are now considering the possibility very seriously.

In New Jersey, a recreational bill that failed to make its way into law ended up paving the way for lawmakers to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program. And moving forward, it seems likely that New Jersey will eventually legalize recreational.

Although New Hampshire continues to outlaw recreational weed, it does have a medical marijuana program. NHPR reports that the program currently has more than 7,000 registered patients.

Advocates for recreational weed in New Hampshire have already indicated that they will continue pushing for legalization.

“Our opponents may have succeeded in delaying the inevitable . . . but they have completely lost this battle in the court of public opinion,” Matt Simon, New England political director at the Marijuana Policy Project, told NHPR. “It is only a matter of time before the legislature votes to end cannabis prohibition in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state.”

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