NH Senate passes bill to decriminalize marijuana possession

HB 640 will now head back to the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly approved the original version in February.

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CONCORD, NH – The state Senate passed a bill May 11 (17-6) that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire.

HB 640 will now head back to the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly approved the original version in February (318-36) and is expected to concur with the Senate-approved version soon. At that point, the bill would be sent to Gov. Chris Sununu, who on Thursday referred to the bill as “common sense marijuana reform.”

HB 640 was originally introduced in the House by Rep. Renny Cushing and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. The Senate-approved version would reduce the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor — currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 — to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense. A fourth offense within three years of the first offense could be charged as a class B misdemeanor, but there would be no arrest or possibility of jail time.

“This is a very important reform for the Granite State, and it has been a long time coming,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The walls of prohibition are crumbling in New England and across the United States. It’s encouraging to see New Hampshire finally begin to catch up with neighboring states by passing decriminalization.”

More than two-thirds of New Hampshire adults (68 percent) support making marijuana legal, according to the latest Granite State Poll, which was released Tuesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Nearly three-quarters of Granite Staters (74 percent) would like to see the Legislature decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

Following the New Hampshire Senate’s actions to pass HB 640, relative to the penalties for possession of marijuana, Governor Chris Sununu issued the following statement:

“I want to thank the legislature for passing common sense marijuana reform. I look forward to signing House Bill 640 into law.”


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