New Hampshire House votes to legalize Marijuana possession and cultivation

New Hampshire House votes to legalize Marijuana possession and cultivation
credit:Union Leader

The New Hampshire House of Representatives embraced adult-use marijuana legalization Tuesday and passed HB 656 with a 207-139 vote. The bill will now go to the House and Ways Committee.

The same thing happened in 2014, when the House overturned its committee recommendation and voted to legalize marijuana.

The vote came just days after the Vermont House voted, 83-61, to approve a similar bill, legalizing possession by adults of up to an ounce of marijuana and allowing individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants at home.

Advocates, like Rep. Frank Sapareto of Derry, said the “war on pot” should be over.

Opponents argued the bill is premature because a commission created past year to study the issue won’t make its recommendations until November.

A majority of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committees is recommending that the bill be killed because the commission will not make its recommendations until November.

“It is better to know the territory before setting off for a hike”, said Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston.

More than half of the 400-member House disagreed.

Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, said New Hampshire risks losing tourism dollars if it doesn’t legalize marijuana. Opponents include the advocacy group New Futures, which said it will continue to examine the issue through the study commission.

Lawmakers in New Hampshire took up a marijuana bill even as the shadow of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to undermine state marijuana laws looms large. Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.

The first pot shops in MA are slated to open this year. Both measures now await action by their respective state Senates, with a vote in Vermont expected for later today. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu has said he opposes marijuana legalization.