Bills Seeking to Decriminalize Marijuana, Legalize Medical Marijuana and Legalize Hemp Cultivation to be Introduced in New Hampshire Legislature in 1999 12/18/98

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Scott Ehlers, Drug Policy Foundation The state that lives by the motto "Live Free or Die" will decriminalize marijuana, legalize medical marijuana and permit farmers to grow hemp if Rep. Timothy N. Robertson has his way. The Democrat from Keene will introduce legislation in the New Hampshire legislature early next year to decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, as well as legislation to permit a patient and his/her caregiver to possess and cultivate up to three cannabis plants. The decriminalization legislation will reduce marijuana possession offenses from a class A misdemeanor to a violation, the same status as a parking ticket.

"It's time we put some sense into our drug policies," says Robertson, who doesn't believe in putting people in jail for "getting high in different ways than most people." According to Robertson, current drug policies "haven't accomplished much except throw a lot of people in prison."

In regard to medical marijuana, Robertson noted that "California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and the world didn't come to an end and everyone hasn't become a drug addict like Republicans predicted." He believes that the medical marijuana initiative victories across the country prove that "politicians have to catch up with the people" on the medical marijuana issue.

This isn't the first time that Robertson has introduced legislation to reform New Hampshire's marijuana laws. In the last House session he introduced similar bills to decriminalize the possession of 1 1/2 ounces or less of marijuana and legalize the medical use of the plant. He also sponsored a hemp legalization bill that passed the agriculture committee but not the full House.

This year other legislators are doing much of the work on behalf of the hemp bill so as to separate the issue of hemp, which is not psychoactive, from the pharmacologically-active marijuana.

While Rep. Robertson believes there is a good chance that the hemp bill will pass the House, he concedes that the marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana bills will have a harder time making it through the legislature. He is hopeful that they will be passed out of committee, though, because of the momentum created by the drug policy reform victories around the country.

"The press and the people are becoming more liberal on drug policy reform issues. It may take a while for these bills to pass, but I believe it will eventually happen."

(Scott Ehlers is Senior Policy Analyst at the Drug Policy Foundation, and can be reached at [email protected]. Visit http://www.dpf.org or http://www.drugpolicy.org to find DPF on the web.)

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Issue #71, 12/18/98 Diana McCague Sentenced for Syringe Exchange | Action Opportunity: Protest on Steps of New Jersey Statehouse | Bills Seeking to Decriminalize Marijuana, Legalize Medical Marijuana and Legalize Hemp Cultivation to be Introduced in New Hampshire Legislature in 1999 | Patient Who Was Denied Liver Transplant For Using Medical Marijuana Dies | Media Spotlight: Drug Smuggling by US Marines a Growing Problem | Editorial: Unrighteous Indignation
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