It was only a matter of time before more states started seriously considering legislation that would legalize the use, sale, cultivation, production and possession of cannabis – but we all knew it wouldn’t be an easy road. Lawmakers in New Hampshire had introduced a bill earlier this month that seemed like it had a good chance of passing – but now the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 to “re-refer” House Bill 481 back to committee for further study.
This will delay any potential vote, but it gives the committee until December 19th to have a final version ready for the Senate floor. At that point, a vote by the full Senate would happen no later than the end of January – but that still leaves us almost another full year before legalization could be a reality in New Hampshire.
“I do support the legalization, however, we heard a lot of concerns throughout the testimony, so I felt there was some areas that we either need to tighten up or make it more apparent that we’re doing things like protecting children,” said Sen. Melanie Levesque, a member of the committee.
Many people on both sides of the issue believe it was a good idea to continue working on the bill before sending it to a final vote. This comes after weeks of opposition to the bill in hearings – some of which were reasonable concerns, like setting restrictions on advertisements to avoid advertising to children.
At its core, House Bill 481 right now would legalize the purchase, consumption, sale and cultivation of cannabis in New Hampshire for adults 21 and older. It would create a regulatory and tax structure for all sales, and it would set up licensing framework for retail sales, while allowing adults to grow up to six plants in their home.
Given that New Hampshire has several states to look to when it comes to creating their new cannabis policies, it should be a fairly straightforward bill when they are through making changes. If passed, they would be the first state to fully legalize marijuana through legislature. Only Vermont has even come close so far – legalizing possession and use, but not retail sales, with the intention of doing so in the future.
At this point, however, it seems that it will be sometime early next year before we find out whether New Hampshire will be one of the next states to legalize cannabis – and possibly the first to legalize a full commercial industry through legislature.