Bipartisan marijuana legalization bill to be introduced in next legislative session 

  • Customers look over a marijuana bud brought to be tested for its potency at White River Growpro in White River Junction, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

  • Marijuana File photo

  • Marijuana buds in glass jars on wooden background kristin palpini

Monitor staff
Published: 12/14/2022 4:16:39 PM

New Hampshire differs from other states in many ways: It’s the only place in the country where it is legal to not wear a seat belt. Motorcyclists don’t need to wear helmets. Its legislature has more representatives per capita than any other State House. But despite its “live free or die” motto, New Hampshire is the lone state in New England that has yet to legalize marijuana.

That could change in the next legislative session, though, when a new bipartisan bill is introduced to legalize the adult use of cannabis.

The bill – which is sponsored by Auburn Republican and House Majority leader Jason Osborne and Matt Wilhelm, a Manchester Democrat and party leader – focuses on marijuana use and possession.

If passed, it would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to four ounces of cannabis, protect for cultivation both at home and through state-licensed private sites, enable retail sales and establish a state regulatory and licensing body.

“This proposal to legalize cannabis for adults in New Hampshire brings together diverse nonpartisan perspectives. This bill brings a solution to pay off our pension liability, reduce property taxes, provide additional resources for law enforcement, while restricting minors from accessing cannabis,” Osborne said in a statement.

The bill would also automatically annul records for past cannabis possession offenses.

In October, President Joe Biden authorized a federal pardon of all simple possession of marijuana violations. He encouraged state governors to do the same, however, New Hampshire has yet to follow suit.

This is not the first time efforts like this have floated through the State House. The House of Representatives has passed legalization bills before – like HB 629 in the last legislative session – but none have lived past the Senate.

Governor Chris Sununu has also vowed to veto marijuana legislation since he took office in 2016. He has yet to see a legalization bill survive the legislature and make it to his desk, though.

In a gubernatorial debate this fall, Sununu recognized New Hampshire’s position as the lone state without legalization. But with each state operating on its own guidelines, New Hampshire needs time to figure out the correct process, he said.

“I’ve always said nows not the time. Every state does it very different. I’ve always wanted to see what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “There may be a way to do it but given that we are facing an opioid crisis, given that we still don’t know what works with other states, it could be inevitable, I get it, but you got to be patient about how you do it and the steps that are best for New Hampshire.”

The proposed bill is backed by a broader coalition including Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire, The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Cannabis Association, Prime ATC, Attorney Paul Twomey, the Marijuana Policy Project and other current and former lawmakers.

“Granite Staters deserve a cannabis legalization policy that makes sense for New Hampshire and is based on lessons learned from other states,” Matt Simon, the director of public and government relations for Prime Alternative Treatment Centers of NH, said in a statement. “We enthusiastically support this thoughtful and comprehensive approach to cannabis policy, and we are encouraged to see that a broad coalition has unified behind the legislation,”

Although marijuana possession was decriminalized in 2017, nearly 1,500 people were arrested for possessing cannabis in 2020, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

Statewide, Black people are 4.8 times more likely to be arrested for possession, with that disparity even higher in the Concord area, where it increases to six times.

The ACLU estimated these arrests cost the state $3.25 million annually for law enforcement and judicial fees.

Possession and cultivation would be allowed upon legalization. Commissions would then begin accepting applications and license applications would be reviewed on a 90-day timeframe. The full proposal of the bill can be found online.


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

Stay informed with our free email updates
Concord Monitor Daily Headlines
Concord Monitor Breaking News
Concord Monitor Dining & Entertainment
Concord Monitor Report For America Education
Concord Monitor Report For America Health
Concord Monitor Real Estate
Concord Monitor Sports
Concord Monitor Suncook Valley
Concord Monitor Contests & Promotions
Concord Monitor Weekly Most Popular
Concord Monitor Granite Geek
Concord Monitor Monitor Marquee
Concord Monitor Hopkinton
Concord Monitor Politics
Concord Monitor MY CONCORD
Concord Monitor Franklin

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy

Customer Service

Social Media


View All Sections

Part of the Newspapers of New England Family