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New Hampshire House Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill

HB 639, a bill to legalize Cannabis for adults in New Hampshire, has bipartisan sponsors in House and Senate 

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HB 639, a bill to legalize Cannabis in New Hampshire, has bipartisan sponsors in House and Senate 

Legal marijuana is one step closer to reality in New Hampshire after the state House voted 272-109 for HB 639. Legalization efforts have fallen short in recent years. But this year’s effort has momentum heading into the state Senate. HB 639 has bipartisan sponsors in both the House and Senate. 

HB 639 would legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. GOP Rep. Jason Osborne and Democratic Rep. Matt Wilhelm cosponsor the billl. A broad coalition of marijuana industry figures, civil rights advocates, and policy groups also back the bill.

Polling has shown that the vast majority, more than 70%, of New Hampshire residents support marijuana legalization for adult use. In recent years, legalization bills have passed in the state House, but have fallen short in the N.H. Senate.

“This Is The Year To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis In The Granite State”

“With the decisive passage of HB 639, the New Hampshire House has sent a strong message that this is the year to legalize adult-use cannabis in the Granite State,” said Rep. Matt Wilhelm. “Every year we fail to legalize marijuana, the state wastes valuable resources. It ruins the lives of many young and poor Granite Staters by enforcing failed prohibition. New Hampshire remains the only state in New England that has failed to legalize cannabis. While our neighbors benefit from increased revenue and their cannabis users benefit from safer testing and regulation of the product.”

The New Hampshire Senate, where the bill also has bipartisan support, will now take up HB 639.

State Senator Keith Murphy (R), State Senator Becky Whitley (D), and State Senator Donovan Fenton (D) are supporting this bill. They plan to to get adult-use Cannabis legalization to the Governor’s desk for the first time.

“Prohibition has proven over and over to be a failed public policy,” said State Senator Keith Murphy. “It is especially ineffective when all of our surrounding states have already legalized marijuana possession and use. Investigating and prosecuting cannabis possession is a terrible waste of tax dollars. For these reasons, I am encouraging my Senate colleagues to support the bill.”

“There’s momentum behind marijuana legalization this year,” said State Sen. Becky Whitley. “”Granite Staters want this to happen and it’s time that lawmakers come together and listen to our constituents. HB 639 would stop the cycle of harm caused by enforcing marijuana prohibition from the day that it’s signed. With such far-reaching, positive impact at stake, there’s no time to wait.”

HB 639 Supported By A Broad Coalition

A broad coalition supports HB 639. It includes Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire, The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, N.H. Cannabis Association, Prime ATC, Hon. Timothy Egan, Hon. Joe Hannon, Attorney Paul Twomey, and the Marijuana Policy Project. 

“We applaud the N.H. House for once again passing HB 639 by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority,” said AFP-NH Deputy Dir. Ross Connolly. “Public polling consistently shows 70%+ of Granite Staters support legalizing cannabis for adults. Representatives made it clear that they stand with their constituents by finding a bipartisan compromise that protects consumer safety, restricts access to minors, and keeps the regulatory and tax structure low to ensure retail cannabis in the Granite State is competitive with our neighbors. We encourage the Senate and Governor to join the House in supporting this thoughtful and uniquely New Hampshire approach to legalizing cannabis for adults.”

Frank Knaack, Policy Director for the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “Sold to the public in the name of public safety, New Hampshire’s marijuana laws needlessly ensnare over 1,000 people — disproportionately Black people — in its criminal justice system every year. New Hampshire’s war on marijuana harms community safety, wastes taxpayer dollars, and is enforced with a staggering racial bias. It ruins lives — and it’s time for it to end.”

“Intelligent, Bipartisan Legislation”

“HB 639 is a great example of intelligent, bipartisan legislation,” said Timothy Egan, NHCANN Board of Advisors Chair. “It answers our residents’ call for regulation, in a fiscally prudent manner. While being socially respectful to our communities, public safety officials and patients.

“Year after year, legalization bills have died in the Senate after passing the House,“ said Karen O’Keefe of MPP. This left New Hampshire as the only state in New England that hasn’t legalized and regulated marijuana for adults.

“HB 639 is informed by the lessons of the 21 states that have already legalized cannabis,” O’Keefe said. “It reflects the priorities and values of New Hampshire.”

You can view a bill summary from the Marijuana Policy Project here. The ACLU of New Hampshire has a fact sheet here.

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