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New Hampshire Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Killed

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #733)
Drug War Issues

A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana died last Wednesday in the New Hampshire Senate. The Senate voted without debate to kill the bill, which had passed the House by one vote in March, but faced a veto threat from Gov. John Lynch (D).

The bill, House Bill 1526, would have made possession of less than a half-ounce of pot a violation punishable by a $250 fine. A second offense would garner a $500 fine, and subsequent offenses would be considered misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Under current New Hampshire law, possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

While the Senate did not debate the bill Wednesday, it had a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. There, familiar tropes were trotted out on both sides of the issue, with opponents saying it would send the wrong message to kids and supporters saying saddling young people with criminal records over pot would harm them.

"This would undermine the fundamental message in the schools and that parents try to teach, and this is that using marijuana is a bad choice, is the wrong choice," said Assistant Attorney General Karin Eckel, who was also speaking on behalf of the state police chiefs association.

But the current law is not proportionate to the crime, retorted Claire Ebel, executive director of he New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. "The effect of marijuana convictions on young people includes the inability to be employed in most government agencies or to join the military. It means they can't get student loans," she said.

New Hampshire's stance on decriminalization is increasingly a minority one in the region. Pot is already decriminalized in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Possession remains a misdemeanor only in Vermont and Rhode Island, along with the Granite State.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Bob C (not verified)

Prohibition sends the wrong message.  Free people decide what will or will not go into their own bodies.

One would think that a member of the executive branch (Karin Eckel)  of the ahem "live free or die" state would recognize the hypocrisy of jailing people for using marijuana which has been patented  for it's medicinal properties (patent #6,630,507). The state of New Hampshire sold $534 million in alcohol via it's monopoly liquor outlets.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that alcohol is the second leading cause of death among substances, while marijuana kills zero.  of course when your paycheck depends on ignoring facts and jailing people it is hard to understand or agree with certain information. 

If the state can decide what a person will peacefully consume...are we still free?






Thu, 05/03/2012 - 9:48pm Permalink
Jill Herendeen (not verified)

In reply to by Bob C (not verified)

...are we free?"


Meanwhile, as The State refuses to label foods containing GMOs as such, puts fluoride in our drinking water & then LIES about the harm it causes, etc. etc., it is forcing us to consume poisons unless we take EXTRAORDINARY steps to avoid doing so.... which makes the whole furor over whether or not we can grow/consume cannabis (why not?  the Founding Fathers did) smell more like a red herring than a valid concern.

Sun, 05/06/2012 - 3:10pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Heavy pot smoking doesn't stop you becoming president.

Unless you get caught, which he wasn't.

If pot smoking is such a terrible crime why hasn't Obama been charged. He confessed to a crime, he should hand himself over to police and why didn't the police charge him already, he confessed in public to committing a serious crime.

Fri, 05/04/2012 - 2:35am Permalink
Justin Auldphart (not verified)

Well, time for the state to spend more money advertising cheap cigarettes and liquor, which is, of course, "the fundamental message in the schools and that parents try to teach..." I am just aghast at the abject stupidity....

Fri, 05/04/2012 - 4:55pm Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

Alcohol supremacist thugs can make that bald claim all they want. But until they can be bothered to explain WHY using cannabis instead of alcohol is a real world problem, freedom loving people and people who respect science should treat them with the utter contempt they deserve. How many people does alcohol kill, Karin Eckel? And cannabis? Answer the question, you goddamn fucking bigot.

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 9:24pm Permalink

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