Commonsense - NH Senate Committee Considers Testimony on Bill to Study Drug Policies

After rejecting a marijuana decriminalization bill, senators contemplate proposal to study effects of current state and federal laws

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, one week after the Senate voted to defeat a marijuana decriminalization bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered public testimony on a bill that would permit a deeper study of drug policy questions by the New Hampshire legislature.  HB 1373, which passed the House in an uncontested voice vote Feb. 17, would create a study committee of three House members and two senators “to study the effects of current state and federal laws on illegal drugs and the possession and use of such drugs.”

Advocates cited growing support for marijuana policy reforms as a reason the bill should pass.  Matt Simon, executive director for the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, touted the bill as an opportunity for the legislature to learn about successful reforms in other states and countries.  “Today, there is an enormous amount of data out there that suggests we need to reevaluate our current policies,” he said.  

“New Hampshire legislators have considered some important criminal justice and marijuana policy reforms this year, but we can’t stop there,” said Rep. Joel Winters (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill. “As lawmakers, if we want to create smart, effective drug policies, we must not be afraid to ask the right questions, like who is being arrested and prosecuted, for what, and why. HB 1373 will help us get answers to those questions, and ultimately lead to better policies that will benefit our state’s residents.”