New Hampshire is a small state in the northeast corner of our country that doesn't often appear in the spotlight. With the United States' tenth smallest population (estimated at less than 1.5 million people) and one of the least diverse racial breakdowns in the country (93.9% Caucasian in 2010), where does New Hampshire stand on the legalization debate? Is it one of the states with legalized medical and recreational cannabis for all adults or card-carrying patients? Or is it still dragging its proverbial feet into the 21st century alongside states like Pennsylvania or Montana? Take a deep breath – we're about to find out.
Is Marijuana Legal in New Hampshire?
Like many states during this time of transition, New Hampshire's marijuana laws are currently in flux. As of September 2017, small amounts of marijuana (up to three-quarters of an ounce) were decriminalized. That meant if you were caught packing less than 0.75 ounces of weed, you would no longer face a misdemeanor (just a civil violation and a fine). But more recently – we're talking less than two months ago – lawmakers at the state House level voted on and approved the legalization of cannabis possession and cultivation.
As a fun side note, this occurred mere days after the current administration moved to rescind federal guidelines protecting state marijuana laws. New Hampshire, we love you and your "Live free or die" attitudes.
But it's not all sunshine and flower in this small eastern state. Lawmakers originally intended to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana sales at a dispensary level as well, but their efforts were blocked due to an ongoing examination of how legalized marijuana business and commerce might work. Although 68% of adults in the state support the legalization of recreational marijuana, it seems that New Hampshire's senators have a history of squashing these bills before they can take effect. The House pitches new legislation, and the Senate slams it out of the park, never to be seen again. Hopefully, that's not the case this time.
Recreational marijuana is decriminalized, but that doesn't mean it's legal. According to NORML, if you're caught in possession of three-quarters of an ounce (or less) of marijuana, you can be slapped with a $100 fine but won't face any charges. If you're carrying more than those 0.75 ounces, you're looking at a misdemeanor charge, a $350 fine, and up to a year behind bars. Add to that an intent to sell and those penalties jump to a felony charge, up to three years in prison, and a maximum $25,000 fine ? all for less than an ounce of marijuana. Subsequent offenses or offenses within 1,000 feet of a school carry a higher penalty: up to double the original sentence and fine.
Alright, let's wade through the political mess and see what is actually legal in the state of New Hampshire. First things first: Medical marijuana has been legal in New Hampshire since 2013. Patients with the following conditions are qualified for the state's medical marijuana program:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chemotherapy-induced anorexia
- Chronic pain
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Elevated intraocular pressure
- Hepatitis C (currently receiving antiviral treatment)
- Moderate to severe vomiting
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe pain (that has not responded to previously prescribed medication)
- Spinal cord injury or disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Wasting syndrome
Patients who are enrolled in the Therapeutic Cannabis Program can possess up to two ounces of marijuana and are only legally allowed to use it in private spaces – not outside or in public. Patients are also not allowed to possess marijuana on school grounds, at public recreation or youth centers, or at places of employment without the employer's written consent.
How Can I Join the Therapeutic Cannabis Program?
Patients and caregivers can sign up for New Hampshire's Therapeutic Cannabis Program by downloading the proper documents from their online application system and mailing it into the state's Department of Health and Human Services. Once a completed application is received by the Program, it will be approved or denied within 15 calendar days. Within five days of being approved, a Registry Identification Card will be issued.
Where Can I Find Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?
When a state is this uptight about a medicinal herb that has been proven effective as a treatment for countless conditions, it can be difficult (and even a little intimidating) to find dispensaries. After all, if New Hampshire marijuana law paints cannabis as something too dangerous to legalize for recreational use, how might the state react to a search history full of "Where can I buy weed?" Don't worry, we've done the work for you. Open up an incognito tab and check out Leafbuyer's map of medical dispensaries in your area.
Can I Grow My Own Pot?
Whether you're a certified medical marijuana user or not, New Hampshire marijuana law prohibits the cultivation or growing of marijuana plants. The penalty for cultivating your own marijuana varies based on the number of plants (mature and immature) and any intent to distribute or sell the flower.
The state Senate might still vote to pass the most recent marijuana bill, which would allow for the private cultivation of cannabis plants without legal penalty. Until that day, we can only hope that New Hampshire will join her sister states in legalizing recreational weed and expanding the legalization of medical marijuana. Who knows? They might even change their state motto to "Live Free and High."