Cannabis liberalization has become a hot topic across the country, and almost every state has taken steps to decriminalize, legalize, or commercialize. Here in New Hampshire, cannabis has been decriminalized, meaning that those found in possession of small amounts of cannabis receive a fine instead of criminal charges and incarceration. Additionally, New Hampshire allows for the therapeutic use of cannabis (medical cannabis).
Two house bills look to commercialize cannabis in New Hampshire:
HB 639 looks to establish procedures for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis and the licensing and regulation of cannabis establishments. HB 639 was recently passed by the House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate for consideration.
HB 544 aims to legalize the retail sale, possession, and use of cannabis for persons 21 years of age and older. HB 544 was retained in committee and will not progress this legislative session.
If New Hampshire moves in the direction of legalizing recreational cannabis through a commercial model, it is imperative to get the policy right from the start. Optimal cannabis commercialization policy for our state must utilize the best available scientific evidence to reduce public harm, limit youth and problematic use, and purposefully advance social justice and equity in the state.