CONCORD, N.H: New Hampshire has just voted to legalize marijuana. Forbes reported that the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to legalize marijuana, making it legal for adults over 21 to legally consume cannabis if the law is implemented.
The new law would not permit recreational dispensaries in the state, but adults would be able to grow 6 cannabis plants at their residence and possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of weed. Adults may also have 5 grams of hashish. The pot bill will now go to the House Ways and Means Committee for approval.
The legislation is similar to a measure that just passed in Vermont the same day that Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo was an Obama Administration federal policy that protected legal marijuana states from federal interference and prosecution.
Many politicians from Sessions' own party were angered by the decision, and New Hampshire's vote is being seen as a reproach of federal interference into state law.
New Hampshire is known for its Libertarian politics. The state slogan of the state is "Live Free or Die" and although the state is surrounded by liberal states, New Hampshire is full of Independents, who are generally opinionated about states' rights to govern themselves without federal input.
The legislation passed in a 207 to 139 vote after the House initially voted 162 to 183 against killing the bill. The bill was amended with the current possession limits and passed by 68 votes. Rep. Frank Sapareto of Derry said that it is time for the pot war to end.
New Hampshire Legalized Medical Marijuana 5 Years Ago
Medical marijuana in the state has been legal since 2013 after the Therapeutic Cannabis Program Law was passed by legislatures. The state has at least 4,700 medical marijuana in the program but only 4 dispensaries, which are called alternative treatment centers in the state. The number of participants doubled in 2017 after the state added conditions such as PTSD and conditions resulting in severe pain to the list of qualifying conditions.
According to the state's medical marijuana program, people ages 5 to 99 are medical marijuana patients. The program's most recent annual report showed patients participating in the program ranged from age 5 to 99 and were scattered across the state. The UNH Survey Center conducted a survey last spring that showed at least two-thirds of New Hampshire are in strong support of legalizing weed in some form.
Those Against the Bill Say the Vote Was Too Soon
Opponents of the bill say that it is too early to legalize marijuana and that lawmakers should have waited until November when the commission finishes their study on the impact of marijuana legalization. Leader of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Rep., David Welch, (R-Kingston) said that it is important to understand the territory before "taking a hike." Welch believes that the bill should be killed.
Supporters of the bill said that legalizing marijuana has been debated for decades and that it was time to make cannabis legal. Rep. Keith Ammon, R-New Boston said that it made no sense for the Live Free or Die state to not actually be a free state that is surrounded by states with freedom. Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) said that the time is now and New Hampshire will lose money from tourism if weed isn't legalized.
The House Ways and Means Committee has not commented on whether or not the panel will hear the bill. If they do, the bill will have another House vote before the bill is implemented.