MPP - NH House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

New Hampshire House of Representatives Approves Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

For first time in history, a legislative chamber in the U.S. passes legislation to end marijuana prohibition and establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

CONCORD — The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill 170-162 Wednesday that would regulate marijuana like alcohol. It is the first time in history that a legislative chamber in the U.S. has passed legislation to end marijuana prohibition and establish a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older.

The measure will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee to review the revenue aspects of the bill. Regardless of how that committee votes, the bill will return to the full House of Representatives for a second vote in February or March. If approved, it will then be considered by the state Senate. 

"House members made history today, and they are clearly on the right side of it," said Matt Simon, the New Hampshire-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the bill. "Marijuana prohibition has been an enormously expensive failure. Most Americans, including 60% of New Hampshire residents, agree that it is time to adopt a more sensible policy."

HB 492, introduced by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) with a bipartisan group of four co-sponsors, would make the private possession and home growing of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. It would direct the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration to license and regulate marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities. As amended by the House, it would enact a wholesale tax of $30 per ounce and a sales tax of 15% per ounce. The House voted down a similar bill 228-89 in 2012.

"This measure will take marijuana cultivation and sales out of the uncontrolled underground market and place them in the hands of licensed, taxpaying businesses," Simon said. "Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for using a less harmful substance than alcohol."

Sixty percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in October by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Just 36% said they are opposed. The entire poll is available at http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2013_fall_gastaxpot102513.pdf.