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Marijuana: New Hampshire House Passes Decriminalization Bill, But Without Veto-Proof Majority

The New Hampshire House Wednesday voted 214-137 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, but the measure faces an uncertain future after Gov. John Lynch (D) immediately threatened to veto it. The House tally leaves supporters about 20 votes short of a veto-proof majority.

Under the bill, HB 1653, adults caught possessing or transporting up to a quarter-ounce of pot would be subject to a $400 fine. Minors caught with a quarter-ounce or less would be subject to a $200 fine and their parents would be notified. Youthful offenders would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service within a year or face an additional $1000 fine. Under current New Hampshire law, small-time pot possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The House passed a similar measure in 2008, but it died in the Senate after Gov. Lynch threatened to veto it. Last year, the House dropped decrim and instead concentrated on passing a medical marijuana dispensary bill. Lynch vetoed that. The House overrode his veto, but the Senate came up two votes short.

Lynch was back in form on Wednesday. "Marijuana is a controlled drug that remains illegal under federal law. I share the law enforcement community's concerns about proliferation of this drug," Lynch said. "In addition, New Hampshire parents are struggling to keep their kids away from marijuana and other drugs. We should not make the jobs of parents -- or law enforcement -- harder by sending a false message that some marijuana use is acceptable."

"This makes three years in a row that the House has passed a bill attempting to reform New Hampshire's archaic marijuana policies," said Matt Simon, executive director for the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, which led the lobbying fight for the bill. "Unfortunately, Gov. Lynch has continued to show little interest in learning what the House has learned about these issues."

The bill now goes to the Senate. But unless advocates can pass it overwhelmingly there and come up without another 20 or so votes in the House, it is likely to meet the same fate as the 2008 decrim bill and last year's medical marijuana bill.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Override 60%; Brownspliff

1. From the above account, NH requires a 2/3 majority to override a veto; with 214-137 this HB 1653 already has 61%-- more than the 3/5 majority needed to end a philibuster in the forward-looking US Senate. How about getting a fully formal parchmented Initiative going, to reduce NH override to 3/5, worth spending a little lawyer money as it would soon be widely publicized and imitated elsewhere.

2. New Hampshire is nominally the best qualified of all US States to be entry point for hemp legalization, having also within its boundaries a dozen or so municipalities named Hampton, Hampstead and variants thereon from which can radiate a citizen initiative along the lines of the UK Brownspliff program (named after lame-duck PM who lost his head over the Skunkweed thc levels etc., or alternatively after the recently elected neighboring-state US Senator whose opponent Coakley had been a notorious anti-cannabis DA).

a. Roll high quality POT-ting soil in a double-strength "spliff" of sycamore leaves and/or brown paper napkins with one POT-seed inside.

b. Roll around Hampton, New Hampton, South Hampton etc. at night on your bike with a sackful of Spliffs and a dibble (sharp digging-stick) looking for frowsy old untended hedgerows, bushes etc.

c. Dig 3-inch hole among the roots underneath and plant one Brownspliff upright. Ride another 100 yards (m.) or so before planting the next one.

d. It will sprout and grow unseen inside the hedge (shade-tolerant), getting steady leafwater drippage, and go to seed. The following year there will be tons of Undocumented Industrial Hemp growing all over NH, and the Governor will just give up and go after the tax money instead like a good fake liberal.

Gov. Lynch

I hope when Mr. Lynch is up for re-election, the voters of New Hampshire stick it to him. What a dick! There is absolutely NO reason for simple possession of marijuana to be a crime. A $200 fine is SIGNIFICANTLY more reasonable than a year in the slammer and a $2,000 fine.

Johnny Green

Any politician that stands

Any politician that stands up against common sense has got to go. We could create millions of jobs and reduce crime and teenage use.

Governor Lynch wants to put

Governor Lynch wants to put you in jail if you try to own your own body.
He can't balance a budget, but he can send storm troopers to arrest peaceful adults. Nice.

People that harm nobody should be left alone, to make choices about their own bodies, it's called "freedom" . New Hampshire's state motto is "live free or die", apparently Lynch can't read or comprehend basic liberty concepts. I'm a responsible peaceful adult, I own me, you own you, or at least that's the way it's supposed to be.

Prosecuting people for a "victimless" crime is immoral.
Allowing government officials to jail harmless people is a "gateway" to both fiscal insolvency and tyranny.

Does anybody else find irony in the fact that the STATE alone can sell alcohol? Yet marijuana a naturally occurring substance which is proven to be far less harmful can get you years in jail and felon status?

There is still alot of misinformation being tossed about by hypocritical "law and order" types. Why? They are protecting their jobs and besides its easier to arrest peaceful people than solve "real crimes".

Freedom means tolerating anothers peaceful behavior even if it's not our cup of tea. It works both ways. Remember, if we don't protect everybody's freedom it may be your ox being gored tomorrow.

It's time to claim our rights to our own bodies. The "war on drugs" is a farce and brings great harm to a society that alleges we enjoy individual freedom.

If gov lynch doesnt want to

If gov lynch doesnt want to do his job then let vote for someone who will

God vs Man

Legal for 5 billion years by GOD

Illegal for 77 years by Man

I guess God doesn't count anymore.

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