After November’s election the state of New Hampshire became bordered by two states that have voted in cannabis legalization initiatives – Maine and Massachusetts. Due to the close proximity to their own state, New Hampshire activists have been speaking up in hopes that this will help push forward new policies for their own state. In Massachusetts, marijuana became legal to possess and consume on the 15th of December – and Maine is currently part of the way through a recount due to the extremely narrow margin by which they won; but has this affected lawmakers’ points of view any?
“I think as the Live Free or Die state, we ought to let adults make decisions as to what goes in their body.” – Senator Woodburn
It has for at least one, the Senate Democratic leader. Senator Jeff Woodburn told New Hampshire Public Radio that he has recently decided legalization is the logical answer for the state. Once a fan of strictly decriminalization, Woodburn stated that since the end result will eventually be legalization, it’s better to get behind it early and be a frontrunner in the industry, rather than continuing a failed policy that takes resources and funding away from handling more serious crimes and public health issues.
“I think the next logical and natural step is a path towards legalization. And that’s the important thing: a path towards legalization. The question is are we going to be in a position where we will plan for the inevitable, which is the state of New Hampshire will eventually have legal marijuana, and how should we handle it.”
In order to create this pathway to legalization, Woodburn suggests setting a permanent date in place for when marijuana will become legal in the state of New Hampshire – giving lawmakers a set amount of time to decide how they wish to go about it. Perhaps decriminalization would occur simultaneously with the decision of such a date – making it a lesser punishment in the meantime, allowing law enforcement to put much needed resources into more important issues – all the while giving the state government the time they need to decide how to move forward in a world of legal cannabis.
“The question is if we all agree that marijuana eventually in the state of New Hampshire and the entire country will be legal, then New Hampshire should be on the forefront of defining what we want it to look like: how we’re going to regulate it, how we’re going to tax it, how we’re going to distribute it, what the process is going to look like. These are the practical questions. Putting our head in the sand or in the snow doesn’t get us any closer to an efficient way to be able to deal with this issue.” – Senator Woodburn
There are several good ideas proposed by Woodburn in this interview – setting aside a date and sticking to it, for example. If New Hampshire is already likely to decriminalize marijuana within the next year, why not take it a step further? After all, the state is likely to see some sort of effect – whether it be people driving over the border to buy their cannabis legally, or residents moving to neighboring states to avoid being a criminal – and it would likely benefit them in a large number of ways. As Woodburn said, if we all agree it will be legal eventually, why aren’t more people trying to make sure it happens as effectively as possible?