N.H. House OKs Decriminalized Pot
Concord — The New Hampshire House passed a bill yesterday decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for the fourth time in five years.
But it’s still unlikely the state will join its neighbors in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut in decriminalizing marijuana, as Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she’s not in favor of decriminalization and the Senate has shot down each of the recent attempts by the House to pass such a law.
Bill supporters argued it’s time to end the prohibition of marijuana, which they said doesn’t have public support and is a financial and regulatory burden on the state.
In addition, they said legal substances like alcohol and tobacco have worse health and societal impacts.
“A criminal offense and a criminal record can do much more harm than a small amount of marijuana,” Rep. Joel Winters, D-Nashua said, during debate on the House floor.
The House voted 214-115 to pass the bill reducing the penalty for possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana to a fine of up to $200.
The bill would also require those 18 and under to attend drug rehabilitation classes or face a $1,000 fine.
Though the House has passed similar legislation in the past, it is more evidence that the body is increasingly open to marijuana reform. A recent vote on a bill legalizing pot altogether did not pass, but garnered a surprising 112 votes.