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New Hampshire Senate Votes Against Cannabis Legalization Bill |

On Thursday, the New Hampshire Senate rejected a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana. This likely kills any chance of substantive reform in cannabis policy this year. House Bill 629 was defeated by the New Hampshire Senate in a 15-9 bipartisan vote.

The measure would allow adults aged 21 or older to possess up to three quarters of an ounce. It would have also allowed adults to possess some cannabis edibles and tinctures. Home cultivation of six cannabis plants would be permitted by the bill. However, the legislation didn’t include any provisions regarding commercial production or sale.

House Bill 629, a New Hampshire House of Representatives bill that was overwhelmingly passed by its members earlier this year, received a bipartisan vote of 241 to 113. The state Senate rejected the bill on Thursday due to concerns regarding public safety.

“This is not a harmless substance,” Republican Senator Bob Giuda told colleagues during a debate before Thursday’s vote. “Legalizing this does no good for any segment of our population.”

Wide support for recreational cannabis

The bill was supported by senators who noted the broad support for cannabis reform in New Hampshire. Recent polling from the University of New Hampshire shows that 74% of the state’s residents approve ending the prohibition on cannabis for adults, with more than two-thirds expressing support for legislation that would have authorized sales of legal cannabis by state-run retailers. Democratic senator Becky Whitley stated that New Hampshire is behind other states in legalizing cannabis.

“New Hampshire has become an island in New England, with our overly burdensome regulations of cannabis that are out of sync with what the scientific health and social data says,” Whitley said. “And most importantly, with what New Hampshire voters want.”

Whitley also referenced data that was released by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire this week that revealed that New Hampshire residents who are Black were 4.8 times as likely to be arrested in possession cases than those of white origin. She also noted that the disparity is more pronounced in some areas, saying “13.9 times: That’s the number of times that Black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession when compared to white people in Manchester, despite both groups using marijuana at roughly the same rate.”

Republican Senator Bill Gannon disputed the data offered by Whitley, saying he had read “studies from numerous police departments” that he said showed that people of color are arrested at lower rates than white people. Gannon’s office did not reply to an email from Chronic NewsFor more information, contact the Senator

Gannon said also that legislators should not be affected by international cannabis reform movements.

“In New Hampshire, we make men and women of granite,” he said, adding “I don’t care what my three neighboring states and Canada do. The majority of the U.S. is still against legalization.”

The New Hampshire Senate had earlier killed an additional bill which would have allowed recreational marijuana possession and sale. Under House Bill 1598, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission would have been given the responsibility “to regulate and administer the cultivation, manufacture, testing, and retail sale of cannabis statewide,” with recreational cannabis sales carried out through the agency’s state-run liquor stores.

This bill was approved by the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a vote of just 169 to 156 earlier in April. But with a unanimous vote on April 20, the Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended that the bill be deemed “inexpedient to legislate.” 

On Thursday, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of that recommendation. The Senate killed both of the bills, meaning that New Hampshire’s efforts to legalize recreational marijuana will likely be abandoned until next year.