New Hampshire

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New Hampshire: Governor Signs Cannabis Decriminalization Bill

Cannabis

HB 640 will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill into law that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire. It will officially take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

New Hampshire: Decriminalization Bill Passes In Senate, Moves Back To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a marijuana decriminalization bill, but the measure must now go back before the House after the Senate amended the measure to drop the cannabis possession limits from 1 ounce to three-quarters of an ounce. The bill would eliminate jail time for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis and up to five grams of "hashish" and reduce the fine from $350 to $100 for adults 18-and-older.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a decriminalization proponent, said he was confident that the House would agree with the measure amended by the Senate, and so make its way to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu, who has indicated that he would sign it.

“I want to thank the legislature for passing common sense marijuana reform,” Sununu said following the Senate vote. “I look forward to signing House Bill 640 into law.”

Fines will increase to $300 for a third offense and a fourth offense would result in a Class B misdemeanor charge under the measure. Minors convicted of possession of less than the law allows would be subject to a delinquency petition.

The bill forbids law enforcement officers from making arrests for marijuana possession violations.

Connecticut: Marijuana Legalization Hearing Draws Conflicting Testimony

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing on legalizing marijuana for adults in Connecticut Wednesday produced plenty of conflicting testimony about risks and benefits associated with the plant. Topics of concern ranged from health concerns to the state's need for tax revenue.

Very different attitudes toward recreational marijuana were expressed by members of the General Assembly's judiciary committee. Some lawmakers opposed cannabis legalization, while some strongly supported it.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argued that the plant is less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and that millions of dollars of illegal cannabis is currently being sold in Connecticut every year. Marijuana legalization "would take control of the marijuana market out of the hands of drug dealers," said Joseph LaChance, a medical marijuana patient from Milford.

Martin M. Looney, the Senate's top Democratic leader, testified that prohibiting marijuana use in Connecticut has been as ineffective as alcohol Prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Looney and others argued that the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales could help solve Connecticut's fiscal crisis. Currently, medical marijuana can be sold to patients with a few certain qualifying conditions in Connecticut, but the sales are not taxed.

New Hampshire: Republican Lawmakers Pre-file Bill To Legalize Hemp

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Republican lawmakers have pre-filed a bill to legalize hemp for the 2017 legislative session in New Hampshire. The legislature will discuss the bill next month when it reconvenes.

The proposed law, House Bill 51, would remove hemp from the state's Controlled Drug Act, allowing it to be treated like any other agricultural commodity. The proposal was filed by State Representatives Daniel Itse, J.R. Hoell, and James Spillane; it also has the support of Senators Harold French and John Reagan.

The House Committee on Environment and Agriculture will need to pass the bill by March 3rd before it can move to a vote in the full House of Representatives. If passed by the committee and the House, the bill will then go to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill it goes before Governor Maggie Hassan for final approval.

The United States currently imports about a half billion dollars annually from other countries, mainly Canada and China, while the plant remains illegal for its own farmers to cultivate.

According to a poll released earlier this year, 61% of voters in New Hampshire support legalizing marijuana for all purposes, not just hemp or medical; just 24% oppose the move.

New Hampshire: Legislature Takes One Step 'Sideways' On Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Matt Simon, New England Political Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, released the following announcement regarding yesterday's failure to pass a bill to decriminalize marijuana in the state:

The prohibitionists in the New Hampshire Senate, led by gubernatorial candidate Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), succeeded yesterday in preventing any meaningful progress on decriminalization in 2016. The committee of conference on SB 498 removed House changes that would have decriminalized a quarter-ounce of marijuana. As was the case in the original Senate bill, the conference committee’s report would instead reclassify the penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor to an unspecified misdemeanor.

Union Leader reporter Garry Rayno accurately described this as a “sideways” step for marijuana policy reform. Police and courts will continue to waste time on low-level marijuana possession cases, and people who are caught with marijuana will continue being dragged through the criminal justice system. The small change made by SB 498 may end up having a small positive effect on marijuana policy, or it may have no practical effect at all.

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