Letter: End ‘Prohibition’

To the Editor:

The New Hampshire General Court has been trying to roll back “Prohibition” for six years. Five times in the past six years, they have voted to decriminalize and/or legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In 2012, a “decrim” bill passed with a 2-1 margin. The branch of government closest to the people of New Hampshire has spoken with a clear voice. The voters are tired of paying for Prohibition and tired of the loss of civil liberties. This is the “Live Free or Die” state, and yet we are the only state in New England that has not yet started to roll back Richard Nixon’s “War on (some) Drugs.”

During the 2013 session, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt introduced (and both Republicans and Democrats co-sponsored) HB 492, which would legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and place a 15 percent sales tax on it. The bill has passed the House and is in the Ways and Means Committee. It is estimated that the bill would bring in up to $40 million of tax revenue.

However, Gov. Maggie Hassan, like Gov. John Lynch before her, has promised to veto drug legalization.

The Republican contender for governor, Andrew Hemingway, has a different viewpoint than his Democratic predecessors. He supports legalizing marijuana.

The New Hampshire affiliate of the ACLU has released a report showing that direct costs to the state of prosecuting marijuana crimes were $6.5 million in 2010. But the real cost to society is far higher. Current law provides for a jail sentence of up to one year for possession of even the smallest amount of marijuana. A young person convicted for a youthful indiscretion can have his/her entire life derailed, education disrupted, career aborted, relationships cut off.

Want to end Prohibition? Support Andrew Hemingway. I do.

Bill Walker

Member, Sullivan County Republican Committee