New Hampshire House Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

New Hampshire House Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill 12-5 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure is expected to pass in the House when it comes to a vote later this month.

House Bill 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors including Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100.

It would also make cultivation of up to six plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

“There is no good reason to continue criminalizing people for possessing marijuana,” said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is supporting the bill. “Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. This should be the year New Hampshire brings its penalties into line with neighboring states.”

According to a survey conducted in January 2013 by Public Policy Polling, 62% of New Hampshire voters support replacing the state’s current criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a fine of up to $100 and no jail time. Only 27% said they were opposed.

Seventeen states have removed the threat of jail for possession of marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and older.

Earlier this week, the District of Columbia Council approved a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a parking ticket.

  • Dusty Relic

    What is a “Class A Misdemeanor” and how does it differ from, say, a “Class B Misdemeanor”?

    • donald

      Class A Misdemeanor is up to 1 yr. in jail (but not over 1 year, that would be a felony), and a fine of up to 100,000 dollars, or both.
      Class B misdemeanor is up to 6 months in jail and 5000 to 15,000 dollar fine, and or both. This is the Federal law for Marijuana. States go anywhere from $500 to $2000 fine, but jail time of 6 months is for all.

  • Edo Edo

    A step in the right direction from the state that says to, “live free or die…”

  • jay

    I recently moved to NH from WA State. WHY? WHY? WHY?!! I am kicking myself daily. I HATE NH!! It is a POLICE STATE!! They are so backwards here. No internet, still living in the dark ages. The cops are all about busting people for traffic infractions because this is the ONLY means of getting $$ into the system! They publicize peoples names in the local town newspapers before you even have a court date! This has nothing to do with ne…just sayin…

    The archaic laws need -NEED!! to be shelved!!

    The biggest issue here is the min. wage at$7.25/hr. SERIOUSLY!
    My house was broken into for $200 of copper buy PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. Yet the cops are more concerned with handing out speeding tickets or hauling someone off to 3 yrs and $50,000 fine for 5 joints!! Google it!

    This is BS. My girlfriend stayed in WA with her 2 kids instead of coming to live w/me -she is MEDICALLY dependent on pot…and to stop would cause her extreeme pain. Me? I just like the high…So she and I split…thanks NH.

    STOP THE BS!!!

    • yankee2

      Perhaps (some of) that will change, when pot is legal in NH? There is no question that, apart from a libertarian streak, NH is a conservative state. I recently moved to MA from southern CA, so I feel your pain…

  • yankee2

    With ME, MA and VT all moving (by one means or another) in the direction of legalization (all within the next two years), the pressure will be on to legalize in NH, too. Either that or cash-strapped NH can watch millions of its potential tax dollars go to neighboring states. I think it will come around…