Kicking off the New Year with a bhang, New Hampshire's House is set to vote Wednesday on a plan that would legalize up to an ounce of pot for adults 21 and up for recreational purposes (or, for whatever purpose you may have for using cannabis). The bill, dubbed House Bill 492, is among the first few to be debate in the 2014 session.
New Hampshire state house.
Under the proposal, the state would legalize and regulate cannabis dispensaries to sell herb taxed at a rate of $30 per ounce. Adults 21 and up would be able to grow up to six plants at a time at home. Generally speaking, the plan is identical to the one passed in Colorado in 2012.
"Nothing in the bill would allow anyone to drive under the influence of marijuana or any other substance. By legalizing, regulating and taxing (marijuana), society would in effect be taking the profit away from illegal operations which truly harm society," State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, the Republican from Manchester supporting the bill, told fellow legislators last week.
If passed, the laws would go into effect July 1.
Of course, the bill could run into a big snag. Namely: Gov. Maggie Hassan and her opposition to legalization and even decriminalization measures. The blll would also face public opposition from prohibitionist groups and individuals like the chair of the state Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee, Laura Pantelakos.
"If New Hampshire were to legalize and regulate marijuana, it would create an unclear picture of the state versus federal law enforcement, particularly since the DOJ has stated it will rely on states that legalize to strictly enforce and regulate marijuana," she wrote in a report to the House last year.
Of course, Hassan also approved a decriminalization measure in New Hampshire for seriously ill patients last year, so who knows if she could be swayed. The bill would also face opposition in the cannabis unfriendly state Senate - which shot down a proposal do decriminalize a quarter bag of pot last session.