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Live Weed or Die: New Hampshire Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 12, 2017 3:57 PM

The New Hampshire State Senate voted 17-6 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana yesterday, following a 318-36 vote from the House in March. But the Senate version differed slightly from the House version, so there are a few more legal hoops to jump through before New Hampshire residents can safely carry weed with them.

So what regulations did the Senate sign off on, and what might a finalized decriminalization bill look like?

Ounce of Prevention

While the House approved decriminalizing up to an ounce of marijuana, the Senate bill only allows up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of hashish, according to Manchester's WMUR. A proposal for full legalization for recreational use was killed earlier last year. While proponents of legalization touted pot's ability to replace more dangerous alcohol consumption, anti-legalization arguments were bolstered by the state's burgeoning opioid crisis.

This compromise appears to have appeased both sides. House Representative Renny Cushing, who led his chamber's decriminalization efforts, told WMUR the House will likely accept the Senate version of the bill. Once that happens it will be passed to Governor Chris Sununu, who said after the vote that he "look[s] forward to signing House Bill 640 into law."

Fines for Cures

The New Hampshire law would specifically forbid police officers from arresting anyone for pot possession violations and take jail off the table for possession penalties. Instead, persons 18 years of age or older convicted of marijuana possession up to the legal limit would only be guilty of a violation. Fines would be $100 for the first or second offense, and up to $300 for any subsequent offense within a three-year period. Money collected from pot possession would then be designated to combat alcohol and substance abuse.

No date has been set for the House vote.

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