NH House passes marijuana legalization again

This Monday, May 20, 2019 file photo shows a marijuana leaf on a plant at a cannabis grow at Loving Kindness Farms in Gardena, Calif.

This Monday, May 20, 2019 file photo shows a marijuana leaf on a plant at a cannabis grow at Loving Kindness Farms in Gardena, Calif. Richard Vogel/AP file photo

By RICK GREEN

The Keene Sentinel

Published: 04-12-2024 10:22 AM

Modified: 04-12-2024 10:32 AM


The N.H. House of Representatives voted for a second time Thursday in favor of a bill to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use by adults.

It now goes to the Senate.

This time, the vote on House Bill 1633 was 239-136. All of Cheshire County’s representatives voted in favor of the bill with the exceptions of Jennifer Rhodes, R-Winchester; Philip Jones, D-Keene; and James Qualey, R-Rindge.

On Feb. 22, the House vote was 239-141. 

Two votes are needed on bills with financial elements. After the first House vote, the bill was sent to the House Finance Committee for consideration of its fiscal elements.

Under the bill, there would be 15 retail outlets for marijuana statewide.  

Rep. Erica Layon, R-Derry, urged her fellow representatives to pass the bill, saying legalization would improve safety for marijuana users, noting many people now buy it in other states, grow it at home or buy it on the street.

“What this bill would change is that you could have regulated, tested products that are free of contaminants and are not mixed with other drugs,” she said.

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The other states in New England have already legalized the drug for recreational use.

Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, urged a “no” vote, contending other states have experienced public safety problems after legalization.

“We now have the examples of many other states that have legalized this substance over the past few years,” he said. “Have any of them bragged about how much money they made? Have any of them seen a reduction in petty crime?”

Opponents of legalization say it would harm young people and lead to traffic safety problems, while not stemming the illicit market for the drug, while proponents say such problems have not been documented in states that have legalized marijuana.

The bill will now be considered in a Senate committee and the full Senate. If the Senate passes the measure, it would go to Gov. Chris Sununu, who could sign it into law, or veto it.