Lawmakers in the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 207-139 on Tuesday for a bill that would legalize the possession, consumption, and home cultivation of cannabis for adults.
Instead of moving immediately to the Senate for consideration, however, HB 656 has been referred by leadership to the House Ways & Means Committee for further review, according to a New Hampshire Public Radio report. The committee will either make adjustments to the bill or do nothing, at which point it will continue to a Senate committee and, eventually, before the Senate for a full floor vote.
The proposed measure would strictly legalize home cultivation and possession while the commercial cannabis industry would remain illegal.
“The House deserves tremendous credit for taking this reasonable step forward. Most Granite Staters understand that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and they’re ready to see it treated that way. Allowing adults 21 and older to grow a few plants without penalty will give them a much-needed alternative to buying from illicit dealers.” — Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement
New Hampshire is hot on the heels of Vermont, whose legislature is also considering a cannabis legalization bill in 2018’s first legislative session.
Eight states plus Washington D.C. have legalized the adult use of cannabis. If New Hampshire’s bill is ultimately successful, it may be the first state to legalize cannabis without establishing a regulated industry for the plant (Washington D.C. has a similar regime, where voters originally approved the creation of such regulations but were ultimately stymied by federal government interference).
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that Vermont’s pending cannabis legalization measure would establish a taxed-and-regulated system. In fact, it would only legalize possession, cultivation, and consumption of the plant (not its sale/commercial distribution).