Marijuana Legalization

Citizens Count Editor

The sale and use of recreational marijuana are both currently illegal in New Hampshire.

State law permits people with certain medical conditions to receive medical marijuana prescriptions. Learn about medical marijuana in New Hampshire.

According to a 2019 UNH poll, 68% of New Hampshire residents support legalizing small amounts of marijuana while 27% are opposed.

Marijuana laws in NH

New Hampshire law classifies marijuana as a restricted, illegal substance.

In 2017, the state decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana. This means the possession of quantities up to 3/4 of an ounce no longer carries a jail sentence. Learn more about marijuana decriminalization. Today, those found guilty under this law face only a violation and must pay fines between $100 and $300. Violations are the least serious offenses in the criminal justice system.

Minors convicted of possession can still lose their licenses for up to 5 years.

“The idea that we can continue to make outlaws out of a wide swath of the population is a continuation of failed public policy.”

- Rep. Renny Cushing, Hampton

Possessing quantities over 3/4 of an ounce is still a criminal act. If you’re caught with marijuana more than three times within a three-year period, you can face criminal charges. It is also illegal to grow any marijuana plants.

New Hampshire has a drugged driving law. This means it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance such as marijuana.

Selling or intent to sell marijuana is also a serious felony punishable by a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Where is marijuana legal?

Across the country, voters in ten states have passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana. This includes all the states bordering New Hampshire.

It is illegal to transport marijuana over state borders. That means marijuana can’t be purchased in a state where it is legal, such as Maine or Massachusetts, and then transported into New Hampshire.

“To go to a full recreational marijuana when other states are seeing all the problems it has and issues it is bearing – it’s definitely not something I’m supportive of right now.”

- Governor Chris Sununu

Marijuana is still illegal according to federal law, which applies even in states that have legalized marijuana. Because of this, businesses dealing in legal marijuana encounter difficulty following federal tax and banking rules.

Marijuana controversies

There are many legal and economic problems to sort out if marijuana is to be legal.

Most legalization proposals regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco. In 2019, a bill to legalize recreational use passed the New Hampshire House. The bill would have taxed the drug, limited the places it can be used, and restricted it to users over 21 years old. This bill stalled in the Senate because of disagreements about how to legalize the drug. Some of the many objections that led to the bill’s failure in the Senate included:

  • Disagreements about how high (if any) to set a tax on marijuana
  • Disagreements about how much money the state can hope to raise through taxation
  • Difficulties enforcing marijuana DWI laws 
  • Potential links between marijuana and psychosis

What you can do

Care about whether marijuana is legal for recreational use in New Hampshire? Find your representatives and tell them what you think.

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

"New Hampshire should legalize marijuana for adult recreational use."

  • Marijuana is less harmful and addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and should therefore be legal for adults to use if they choose, as a matter of personal freedom.
  • Legalization of marijuana would save government funds currently spent on enforcement and punishment, which could instead be used for prevention and addiction treatment. This would also free up law enforcement resources to pursue more serious or violent crimes.
  • Taxing the sale of legal marijuana could be a valuable source of additional revenue for the state.
  • Legalizing marijuana would undermine the black market for the drug, which helps to fund gangs and other organized criminal networks.
  • Legalization and regulation would ensure that marijuana sold in New Hampshire is a unadulterated. Currently, the drug is often mixed or laced with other substances which can be more harmful. 

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

"Recreational marijuana should remain illegal in New Hampshire."

  • Marijuana can be harmful to adolescent brain development. Some studies also link it to a higher risk of mood disorders, anxiety, and other cognitive problems. For those already at risk of schizophrenia or psychotic disorders, the drug can increase the risk of psychotic episodes. 
  • New Hampshire is in the midst of a drug crisis. Some professionals argue that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ that can lead to the use of more dangerous substances. Thus, legalizing marijuana could worsen the problems New Hampshire is already facing.
  • Any revenue gained from legalization could be offset by the costs of regulation.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. It is extremely difficult to detect marijuana-intoxicated driving, making enforcement a challenge.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Signed by Governor

Legalizes hemp, and establishes a committee to study the federal guidelines on growing hemp. The Senate amended the bill to also include several changes to state animal cruelty laws. These include setting a 14-day deadline for courts to hold hearings in animal cruelty cases; allowing courts to require someone appealing an animal cruelty conviction to post a bond up to $2,000 to pay for animal care; banning those convicted of felony animal cruelty from owning animals for at least five years; and requiring that a health certificate with proof of vaccination accompany any dog, cat or ferret being transferred from one owner to another.

Passed House

Legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults over age twenty-one. A Cannabis Control Commission, similar to the Liquor Commission, would be responsible for licensing and enforcement. The bill also allows limited home-growing of marijuana for personal use.

In Committee

Legalizes and taxes marijuana sales at a rate of 8% of the retail sale price. The bill allows towns and cities to regulate marijuana sales as it relates to the agricultural use of land. The bill does not lay out further regulations of marijuana.

Interim Study

Establishes the Cannabis Control Commission to oversee marijuana sales.

Interim Study

If recreational marijuana becomes legal, this bill establishes where cannabis can be grown and establishes the Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food as the licensing agency to oversee all cannabis growing operations.

Killed in the House

Makes it a misdemeanor to consume marijuana or any marijuana product in public. This bill also adds a $350 fine to misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Lastly, this bill requires marijuana and marijuana products to be transported in a secure container that is not in the passenger area of the vehicle.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

Signed by Governor

Prohibits the designation of industrial hemp as a controlled substance.  The Senate amended the bill to instead establish a committee to study legalizing industrial hemp.

Interim Study

If the state ever allows the sale of marijuana for recreational use, this bill requires the Liquor Commission to buy and sell marijuana the same way it does alcohol.

Interim Study

Legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults over age twenty-one. The bill outlines various regulations, from the ability of municipalities to control the location of marijuana establishments, to labels disclosing the THC in each serving of a marijuana product. The bill also legalizes hemp. The House amended the bill to instead legalize possession and homegrowing of marijuana without allowing sales.

Killed in the Senate

Allows a person twenty-one years of age or older to possess up to 1 ounces of marijuana and to cultivate no more than 6 marijuana plants without penalty. This bill also establishes a committee to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.

Killed in the House

Legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults over age twenty-one.

Killed in the House

Legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults over age eighteen.

Tabled in the House

Allows a person twenty-one years of age or older to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and to cultivate no more than 6 marijuana plants without penalty.

Killed in the Senate

Establishes a commission to study legalization of marijuana.

Killed in the House

Legalizes personal use of up to one ounce of marijuana by persons twenty-one years of age or older. This bill also authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities, and imposes a tax on marijuana sales.

Killed in the House

Removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana, without any framework for taxation.

Killed in the House

Legalizes and taxes marijuana for adults over age twenty-one.

Should NH legalize the recreational use of marijuana?

FOR
REPRESENTATIVES

AGAINST
REPRESENTATIVES

Comments

Troy Dawes
- Highland Springs

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 11:41am

I'll say what's been said a million times. Alcohol is 50 times more dangerous than THC. or to the layman, Marijuana. Think about CO, recreational use of pot has been legal there for years now and there has been no problems because of it. I saw a report that said traffic accidents were up because of pot. NOT TRUE. The accidents are up everywhere cause people can't put their phones down for 20 min to get where their going without running up someone's ars. The point is pot should be legal. It's the best pain killer in the world and doesn't come with the terrible physical addiction as opiates do.

Bob Bogardus
- Farmington

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 12:46pm

According to " multiple U.N.H. surveys " - A MAJORITY of New Hampshire Residents have wanted " Legal Cannabis " FOR YEARS !!!! If Governor Christopher Sununu Vetoes HB - 481 which will wind up on his desk shortly - THEN OUR GOVERNOR IS IGNORING THE WILL OF NEW HAMPSHIRE and should BE VOTED OUT IN 2020.........................

Justin Keith
- New Durham

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:54am

Just legalize it already. While I'd prefer that it was treated legislatively the same way vegetables are treated, I'd accept it being sold at the state liquor stores and taxed.

Christopher White
- canaan

Sun, 11/27/2016 - 3:26pm

I suffer from ptsd, and i have many issues with pain.Marijuana has helped me with both issues and without side affects of any kind what so ever.Marijuana has helped me sleep through the night without the nightmares,and for the severe body pains that i deal with on a daily basis.Its time for change,its time to make america great again yes we need to get these old bastards out of the offices that makes the rules .Out with the old and in with the new i say.Live free or die what a fucking joke that is.Hundreds if not thousands of people die every day in america from alcohol related diseases or accidents and how many from marijuana do the math. Lets get real folks.

Timothy Kay sr
- berlin

Fri, 01/08/2016 - 9:32am

when you have the responsibility of running a dispensory, you supply medicine to people that need it, if you only have 3 or 4 people that can be customers, if they choose, how can you justify establishing that dispensory? well..... that would be that you cannot! change the qualifying factors for these stores and youll find the light bill is now easy to pay! dont ruin a good thing by choking this wonderful law, let people qualify that diserve to qualify. life will go on, i promise! thank you

Timothy Kay sr
- berlin

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 5:33pm

well, my views have changed greatly, this is the greatest state, i have my med cannibis card, i love the care and thought that the dispensory people have put into the medicine they distribute. wow, this is the stuff people with ailments need. thank you and be patient.

Timothy Kay sr
- berlin

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 11:47am

hi, i am a 3 time head injury survivior, i am not allowed to access medical marijuana dispensories because my meds don't cause me side effects. well, by the strict definition, no i don't. if i was to move to maine or vermont, i qualify instantly. well fine be that way. bad news fellas, you wont keep the dispensories open long with 2 or 3 qualifying patients, they cannot smoke enough to pay for them. another good idea planned to death. you voted medical smoke yes , people using it no. no patients, no money to pay your bills. good luck!!!

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Issue Status

A Senate committee has voted against legalizing marijuana. The full Senate will vote on that issue in January. Have an opinion? Contact your state senator and share your thoughts. 

Rep. Renny Cushing has submitted a different marijuana legalization proposal for 2020. That bill would legalize possession of the drug and allow users to grow their own marijuana, but would not create a legal retail market for selling it.

There's another legalization bill on the table for 2020 that likely includes a retail market for marijuana. 

Have an opinion about whether or how marijuana should be legalized in NH? Contact your elected officials and share your thoughts.

 

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