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.”
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?
Voters in some other 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.
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.
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. For example, 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
Every year there are a variety of proposals in New Hampshire to legalize marijuana.
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.
"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.
"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.