New Hampshire Takes Big Step Towards Decriminalizing Pot


Graphic: The Fresh Scent

​New Hampshire just took a big step towards decriminalizing a quarter-ounce or less of marijuana.

A proposal to do just that got a major boost Thursday when a State House committee overwhelmingly voted 16-2 to recommend it, reports Terry Date of The Eagle-Tribune.

Rep. David Welch: “It’s no worse than tobacco and possibly not as bad”

​The bill now moves to a full House vote in the coming weeks, where it is expected to pass, according to Rep. David Welch (R-Kingston).
If the bill makes it through the House and Senate and is signed by the governor, possession of a quarter-ounce or less of pot would be a violation, with a $200 fine and no jail time.
However, Democratic Gov. John Lynch is opposed to decriminalizing marijuana, his spokesman, Colin Manning, said Thursday night.
Rep. Welch said decrim makes sense. Continuing to spend limited law enforcement resources battling marijuana use “seems foolish,” Welch said.
“It’s no worse than tobacco and possibly not as bad,” he said.
Matt Simon, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, said he was pleasantly surprised with the Justice Committee vote.
Just two years ago, before the entire House voted 193-141 to support decrim, the bill was rejected by the Justice Committee, 13-5.
Simon said committee members are much more comfortable with the legislation now.
“In two years, much has changed,” Simon said. “The committee has become much more knowledgeable about decriminalization and heard from constituents.”
Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature’s attempt to legalize marijuana for medical use fell just two votes shy in the Senate of overturning Gov. John Lynch’s veto. The House successfully overrode the veto.