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Many states have relaxed their laws on cannabis, with possession and use now decriminalized in places across the nation but is weed legal in New Hampshire?
We look at the state’s laws on cannabis, what other New England states are doing and why legalizing weed is so controversial. The pros and cons of legalizing weed will also be considered.
Cannabis Laws In New Hampshire
In March 2023, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize cannabis in the state.
The bill contained no limitations or regulations on the drug and served to remove cannabis from the state’s list of banned substances.
The state has been trying for years to get a bill passed that will legalize weed with the majority of New Hampshire residents supporting its decriminalization.
As well as removing cannabis from the state’s list of controlled substances it would remove criminal penalties for weed related offenses.
However, on May 11th 2023 New Hampshire’s Senate defeated the legalization bill that the House had passed.
This is the latest in a long series of defeats at the hands of the Senate for the decriminalization of cannabis.
The following day the Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu gave a statement in which he said that the legalization of cannabis is inevitable, given popular will.
Medicinal Use Of Cannabis In New Hampshire
Other policy reform bills were introduced in 2023 in relation to cannabis including many to improve New Hampshire’s therapeutic cannabis program.
The House passed bill HB431 to allow home cultivation of medical marijuana and bill HB611 which makes it easier for people suffering pain to qualify for it.
Another bill, HB610, which deals with licensing and reporting functions also passed the House.
The program for the therapeutic use of cannabis was established in New Hampshire in 2013. That law provides for exemptions from criminal penalties for medical use of cannabis.
The Therapeutic Cannabis Program processes applications and issues ID cards for those who qualify.
These patients can then buy medical marijuana from one of New Hampshire’s licensed Alternative Treatment Centers.
ATCs are operated independently and are not-for-profit. They cultivate, produce and dispense therapeutic cannabis to qualifying patients in the state.
The program regulates the centers for compliance, quality and safety.
Recreational Use Of Cannabis In New Hampshire
New Hampshire decriminalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in 2017. This meant that anyone carrying up to ¾ ounce of marijuana would not face a jail sentence.
Instead possession of this amount would be a violation and incur a fine of between $100 and $300. In the criminal justice system violations are the least serious offense.
Minors who are convicted of possession can lose their driving license for up to five years.
Possessing more than ¾ ounce remains a criminal act and those who are caught more than three times in three years may face charges.
It is also illegal to grow cannabis plants in New Hampshire unless you are permitted to do so for medical purposes.
Selling cannabis or having the intention to sell is a felony and can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Where In New England Is Weed Legal?
Other states in New England have different approaches to the use of cannabis.
In Connecticut weed is fully legal for medical and recreational uses. That means that anyone over the age of 21 can legally purchase seven grams or ¼ ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
This law came into effect on January 10th 2023.
Medical users can grow up to 12 plants in total and from July 1st 2023 recreational users will be able to grow cannabis.
Residents of Connecticut can also store and transport 5 ounces or less in a locked container.
The laws in Massachusetts are similar to those in Connecticut, but purchasers do not have to be state residents.
Vermont residents over 21 can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and up to six plants, for medicinal purposes or recreational use.
In Rhode Island, dispensaries are now licensed to sell cannabis to recreational users as well as to medical users.
Those over the age of 21 can possess 2 ½ ounces of cannabis in Maine as well as its related paraphernalia. However, use of marijuana in public places isn’t allowed.
Why Is Legalizing Weed So Controversial?
Many people argue that cannabis is no more harmful than consuming alcohol. Whereas anyone over the age of 21 anywhere in the United States can buy and drink alcohol the same blanket rule does not apply to weed.
The arguments are not just about the health effects of consuming marijuana, however. There are many issues surrounding its legalization.
One such disagreement is whether or not to tax cannabis sales and how much money the state can raise through this means.
There are also difficulties enforcing cannabis Driving While Intoxicated laws. Finally, and by no means the least concern, is the potential link between cannabis and psychosis.
Pros & Cons Of Legalizing Weed
There are differing opinions on legalizing weed in New Hampshire with both sides offering valid arguments.
- Marijuana may be less addictive than tobacco or alcohol
- Legalization would save money currently spent on enforcement and punishment for possession and free up law enforcement for more serious crimes
- Taxing cannabis could raise revenue for the state
- Black markets would be undermined and the sale of unsafe marijuana curtailed
- Quality of product would be assured if legalized
- Cannabis has been linked to a higher risk of mood disorders, and anxiety
- Those already at risk of schizophrenia may increase the likelihood of psychotic episodes by using marijuana
- Professionals claim that cannabis is a gateway drug which can lead to use of harder substances
- Revenue gained from taxation may be offset by regulation costs
- DWI detection of marijuana is very difficult making enforcement challenging
We hope that this guide to the legality of marijuana in New Hampshire has been helpful and informative for you.
Learn more about the legal status of weed in the Northeast and in neighboring states:
I’m an avid gardener and cannabis enthusiast. You can usually find me in my garden caring for my plants or at my computer crafting helpful blogs for my readers.