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Entries in MPP (37)

Tuesday
Feb172015

MPP - News Conference and Committee Hearing re: Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties 

 

Supporters of Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession in New Hampshire to Hold News Conference TODAY at 1:30 p.m. ET Prior to Committee Hearing

 

Bill sponsors will be joined by attorneys Paul Twomey and Jonathan Cohen, and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, at event prior to House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee hearing on HB 618

 

CONCORD — Supporters of a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire will hold a news conference today at 1:30 p.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building prior to a hearing on the bill by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

 

The bill sponsor, Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), will be joined at the event by bill cosponsor Rep. Joe Lachance (R-Manchester), attorney Paul Twomey, attorney Jonathan Cohen, and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project.

 

The committee hearing isscheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building.

 

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Schroadter and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

 

“This bill represents a big step toward more sensible marijuana policies in New Hampshire,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There is no reason to saddle someone with a permanent and life-altering criminal record for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

 

WHAT: News conference and House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee hearing regarding bill to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession (HB 618)

 

WHEN: Tuesday, February 17, news conference at 1:30 p.m. ET, committee hearing at 2:30 p.m. ET

 

WHERE: News conference in lobby of the New Hampshire Legislative Office Building, 33 N. State St., Concord; committee hearing in Room 204

 

WHO: Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket)

Rep. Joe Lachance (R-Manchester)

Paul Twomey, Esq.

Jonathan Cohen, Esq.

Matt Simon, New England political director, Marijuana Policy Project

 

# # #

 

The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

Friday
Jan302015

MPP - Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties Introduced in N.H 

State Lawmakers to Consider Removing Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession in New Hampshire 

Bill introduced with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

 

CONCORD — A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it. 

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.  

"Criminalizing someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana causes far more harm than marijuana itself,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is supporting the bill. "A criminal record can prevent someone from accessing employment, an education, and even a home.” 

Three out of five adults in New Hampshire (61%) support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in April 2014. Only 24% said they were opposed. 

“Granite State voters are sick of having the harshest marijuana penalties in New England,” Simon said. “It is irrational to treat people like criminals simply for possessing a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol.” 

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession.

Wednesday
Jul232014

MPP - NH Med. Marijuana Patients to Deliver Message to Hassan 

One Year After New Hampshire Adopted Medical Marijuana Law, Patients Still Risking Arrest and Criminal Prosecution

                                                                      

On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the State House

 

* Photo opportunity: The group will deliver a list of grievances and requests to the governor’s office *

                                                

CONCORD — One year after New Hampshire adopted a law intended to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana, patients are still facing criminal penalties for marijuana possession.  

 

On Wednesday — the first anniversary of Gov. Hassan’s signing of H.B. 573 — Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro) will join patients and advocates at a demonstration in front of the New Hampshire State House to discuss a list of grievances and requests to the governor. Patients will then deliver the list to Gov. Hassan’s office. The list of grievances and requests is pasted below and available online at http://mpp.org/NHgrievances.

 

“Patients have nothing to celebrate on the first anniversary of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Implementation of the program has been beset by needless delays, and people with debilitating conditions still face criminal penalties for possessing any amount of marijuana. This situation is unacceptable.


“We’re fed up with state officials’ stonewalling,” Simon said. “It’s time to start listening to the seriously ill people the medical marijuana law was intended to help.”

 

WHAT: Demonstration and rally to raise awareness about delays facing New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” program

 

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. ET, Wednesday, July 23

 

WHERE: In front of the New Hampshire State House, 107 N. Main St., Concord

 

WHO: Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright

Matt Simon, MPP New England political director

New Hampshire patients and advocates

#########

Patients’ Ten Grievances and Requests — July 23, 2014

 

#10[1] — No legal protection — Patients will have no protection from arrest until ID cards are issued, and the Attorney General’s office has advised the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) not to issue ID cards until the first dispensary opens. Governor Hassan, since you insisted on patients not having any legal protection until ID cards are issued, please urge DHHS to ignore the AG’s deeply flawed legal opinion and move forward with issuance of ID cards, as legislators intended.

 

#9 — No urgency on dispensaries — One year after the signing of HB 573, DHHS still has not managed to produce a first draft of the rules that will govern dispensaries. Governor Hassan, please tell these administrators to get serious and begin implementing this law more swiftly.

 

#8 — Removal of PTSD — Many patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report significant benefits from using cannabis. These patients include military veterans and victims of violent crime, and such patients can now qualify under the laws of 10 states, but not in New Hampshire. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to allowing PTSD as a qualifying condition.

 

#7 — No case-by-case approval — Unlike other state laws, New Hampshire’s law requires both a listed symptom and a listed condition to qualify. The Attorney General’s office has advised DHHS to ignore the law’s “case-by-case approval” language that would allow providers to certify patients with rare conditions or unique circumstances. As a result, rules have been adopted that will exclude patients with compelling needs, including those suffering from epilepsy. Governor Hassan, if you are re-elected, please support efforts to improve this law and allow patients with compelling circumstances to qualify.

 

#6 — Unreasonable requirements for providers — DHHS has adopted rules that exceed its statutory authority by requiring providers to justify their certifications by handing over medical records. Governor Hassan, please begin to recognize that cannabis is less harmful than prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, and that it is insane to discourage providers from recommending a less harmful alternative.

 

#5 — Unreasonable requirements for patients — Under New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law, it is a crime to possess cannabis in “Drug Free Zones.” This means a patient living within such a zone — or even driving through such a zone — would not be legally allowed to possess or use cannabis, even in the privacy of his or her own home or vehicle, and even if the cannabis is not smoked. It also means any patient or caregiver transporting cannabis within two or threeblocks of a school would be inadvertently committing a crime. The law also includes an absurd requirement that patients must have written permission before they can consume cannabis on another person’s property. Governor Hassan, please support removing these unique and burdensome restrictions so patients can obtain cannabis from dispensaries and transport it to their homes without risking an unreasonable arrest.

 

#4 — Opposition to reducing penalties — New Hampshire is the only state in New England where simple possession of marijuana remains a crime punishable by possible jail time. Reducing penalties would reduce patients’ and their family members’ exposure to the criminal justice system if they possess cannabis for therapeutic purposes, including while they wait for ID cards to become available. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to reducing marijuana penalties to a violation.

 

#3 — Police Chief on Advisory Council — The first person appointed to serve as “a member of the public” on the Advisory Council was Tuftonboro Chief of Police Andrew Shagoury. Chief Shagoury was one of the leading opponents of allowing patients access to cannabis, and his opposition to the interests of patients continues. The legislature has since voted to give the police chiefs’ association its own spot on the council, but patients are afraid that yet another opponent will be appointed to represent the public. Governor, please acknowledge the overwhelming public support for this program and appoint a public representative who will not advocate against the interestsof patients.

 

#2 — No patient representative on Advisory Council — The first patient appointed to the Advisory Council has not attended a single meeting. This is unacceptable. Governor Hassan, please appoint a qualifying patient who supports the implementation of this program and one who is willing to attend meetings and represent the interests of patients.

 

#1 — Home cultivation by patients remains a felony — Patients know that if they lived in any neighboring state, they could legally grow their own plants. Governor Hassan, please withdraw your opposition to allowing limited home cultivation by patients and caregivers.

 


[1] These are not in any particular order but are numbered for ease of reference.

Thursday
May292014

MPP - NH Med. Marijuana Rules Hearing Thursday 

 

Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates to Comment on Proposed Patient Registry Rules at Public Hearing Thursday                                                                    

Advocates will urge regulators to more swiftly implement program that will provide seriously ill patients with legal access to medical marijuana; hearing will take place at the Department of Health and Human Services Brown Building Auditorium at 9:30 a.m. ET                                                              

CONCORD — The Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday on its proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the state’s medical marijuana program. Patients and advocates will comment on the draft rules (available here) and the impact of a memo from the attorney general’s office (available here) that has delayed implementation of the program. 

The Marijuana Policy Project is urging regulators to begin issuing ID cards to patients as quickly as possible. 

“It is critical that the state begin issuing ID cards to patients as soon as the rules for the patient registry have been finalized,” said Matt Simon, a Goffstown-based New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There is no reason to delay the program, and many patients can’t afford to wait any longer for relief. Our state should not continue to criminalize seriously ill people who are using medical marijuana under their doctors’ supervision.”

 

WHAT: Public hearing on proposed rules for the patient registry portion of the Therapeutic Use of Cannabis program

 

WHEN: Thursday, May 29, 9:30 a.m. ET

 

WHERE: Department of Health and Human Services, Brown Building Auditorium, 129 Pleasant Street, Concord

 

WHO: Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project

 

# # #

 

The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

Thursday
May082014

MPP - NH Report Shows Collateral Consequences of Marijuana Convictions 

Advocates call on members of the House of Representatives to add House-approved decriminalization measure to one or more Senate bills; HB 1625 would have eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

 

CONCORD — The Marijuana Policy Project released a report Tuesday detailing the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana conviction in New Hampshire. The organization also urged members of the State House of Representatives to revive a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

 

The report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in New Hampshire,” was released in an email to legislators, and copies were presented to House leaders, Senate leaders, and Gov. Hassan’s office. A PDF of the report is available at mpp.org/NHMarkedForLife.

 

“A misdemeanor conviction can absolutely follow a person for the rest of his or her life,” said Mark Sisti, a Concord-based criminal defense attorney. “All five other New England states have eliminated criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession and replaced them with a civil fine. New Hampshire should do the same.”

 

Advocates are calling on members of the House to attach the language of a widely supported marijuana decriminalization bill to one or more bills that have been approved by the Senate. The House passed HB 1625 with more than a two-thirds majority (215-92), but the Senate refused to accept the bill from the House. The measure, introduced by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would have eliminated criminal penalties and the possibility of receiving a criminal record for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. It would have also reduced maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses, including reclassifying cultivation of up to six marijuana plants as a misdemeanor instead of felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

 

“The Senate wasn’t willing to listen this year, but House rules allow representatives to continue pushing for this sensible reform in 2014,” Simon said. “We encourage them to do so. It's not only common sense, it's what the voters want. Granite Staters are tired of seeing their tax dollars and the state's limited law enforcement resources wasted on arresting and prosecuting marijuana users.”

 

Three out of five New Hampshire adults (61%) support HB 1625, according to an annual WMUR Granite State poll released in April by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.