Valentines Day (that’s tomorrow) will also be marijuana day in the New Hampshire House as no fewer than three bills are scheduled for the criminal justice committee in the afternoon.
So many people are expected that a double room has been planned for the third floor of the legislative office building.
Even as reports are emerging that Governor Maggie Hassan is planning to include $80 million of expanded gambling revenue in her budget and tout it in her 10 a.m. speech, all without any indication that the House is ready to vote for her single slots parlor plan; at least one of the marijuana bills could bring money into state coffers.
It’s my bill (House Bill 492; 1 p.m.) which calls for total legalization based on the proposal which Colorado voters approved by a 55-45 percent margin last November. Like in Colorado, marijuana would also be taxed at the same time it’s legalized.
As strange as it might seem, marijuana legalization (or decriminalization) might have as much a chance in the House as gambling, at least on the criminal justice committee which includes not only myself but three other sponsors—Republicans Mark Warden and Kyle Tasker and Democrat Tim Robertson.
Way to set up a committee, Madame Speaker and leader Chandler.
Reps. Warden and Robertson along with Democrat Joel Winters are co-sponsors of my bill.
Even more Reps (and Senator John Reagan) have signed on to Rep. Warden’s HB337 which would legalize marijuana and cannabis.
Rep. Tasker is the sole sponsor of HB 621 which would decriminalize up to less than one ounce of marijuana.
This doesn't include the medical marijuana bill which, now that John Lynch the Vetoer is gone, is expected to pass. The hearing for that one, in the Health Committee, has not yet been scheduled.
Thanks to House researcher Myla Padden, I have just obtained non-partisan research which will hopefully prove that keeping marijuana illegal may actually be contributing to its use rather than serving as a deterrent.
For example, dig this crazy comparison between the good old US of A and the Netherlands where marijuana is legal (or at least tolerated depending on which version you listen to).
Mila’s research, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, shows that 40.6 percent of Americans (age 12 and up) have used the illegal substance of marijuana in their lifetimes. On the other hand, only 22.6 percent of Netherlanders have so indulged.
While 10.3 percent of Americans (age 12 and up) admit to having used the illegal substance in the past year, only 5.4 percent of Netherlanders (ages 15 to 64) have used it.
It’s a six-page document which just might convince more Criminal Justice Committee members to join the large majorities of Coloradans and Washingtonians (also 55 percent) who voted to legalize in November.
As Maggie Hassan falls asleep tonight thinking of gambling and the final touches for her budget speech tomorrow, maybe, just maybe she’ll decide to get ahead of the curve, to come out in favor of legalization of marijuana, thus enabling millions more of revenue to be included in her budget proposal.
If you believe that, you must be smoking something that isn’t legal in our fair state…at least not yet.
I would be willing to yield prime sponsorship if Her Excellency wishes to take the lead.
Oh yes, there are four other handouts for the committee, and I suspect I’ll share some of them with you here in coming days.