N.H. House: Decriminalize Pot

Concord — The House has voted to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana — making it a violation punishable by a fine only.

The House passed the measure 215-92 on a bipartisan vote and the bill now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate.

The House has passed similar measures each of the past five years, but the bipartisan support of Wednesday’s vote may enable proponents to overcome a veto by Gov. Maggie Hassan. She has said she does not support decriminalization.

Newmarket Republican Adam Schroadter, the sponsor of the bill, said New Hampshire is the last New England state that still criminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. He noted that Maine decriminalized it in 1976.

“With a strong vote today we can send a powerful message that the time has finally come to reduce New Hampshire’s excessive penalties,” he said.

Currently, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and of fine of up to $2,000. The maximum fine would be $100 under the bill passed Wednesday.

Minimum Wage Bill Passes

The House has approved a bill that would set the state minimum wage at $8.25 in the next year and increase it to $9 in 2016.

The Legislature eliminated the state’s minimum wage law in 2011, which means the federal minimum wage is the state’s minimum. Lawmakers rejected restoring the state wage last year.