Live Free and High: A Hopeful New Hampshire

weed next 3 exits Live Free and High: A Hopeful New HampshireFinally there’s something to talk about in New Hampshire in terms of marijuana reform. Wedged between pot-friendly neighbours like Maine, the state has remained quiet on its stance on all forms of marijuana legalization - putting forward medical marijuana proposals lacking enough support to succeed past even the House and similar outright legalization efforts. But all of this might change Thursday, when in Concord, the capital city, Senators will discuss bills which could change the face of Mary Jane all together in the granite state. House Bill 621 will be hashed out first. The bill aims to decriminalize minor marijuana possession cases - 1/4 of an ounce and under - changing the penalty in New Hampshire for possessing marijuana from being classified as a misdemeanour, eligible for sentencing of up to 1 year in prison and $2,000 in fines, to a non-criminal infraction with a maximum fine of $200.00. Initially HB 621 included possession terms of up to an ounce of marijuana and $100.00 maximum fines, but advocates of the bill have been willing to compromise. In the House, members voted 214 to 115 in favour of the bill, and it seems likely to draw a vote on the Senate floor Thursday. House Bill 573, a bill to legalize medical marijuana, was passed by the House with an 80% majority in Marc, so predictions are positive for long-awaited medical marijuana reform. HB 573 would allow qualifying residents to grow up to three cannabis plants for their personal use and plans to set up five non-profit treatment centres permitted to distribute the drug to patients. Jeb Bradley - Senate Republican Leader - says he believes HB 573 will see some change in the Senate, but will eventually pass. As for decriminalization? Things don’t look as cheery for the prospects of HB 621. Advocates have acknowledged  problematic language in the bill and stated their main focus in this campaign will be medical reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee has suggested Senators reject the bill even before it has been formally introduced in the Senate and the Governor - Maggie Hassan - has stated she would not sign the bill if it were put on her desk. Thursday will be a long day of pot-talk in New Hampshire. After hours of discussion on medicinal and recreational use Senators who drive to work with the motto “Live Free or Die” on their license plates will be hit with the last bill of the day - hemp reform. The bill hopes to protect hemp from being termed an illicit drug - another piece of marijuana legislation being tossed on the bonfire this week in a place which, up until now, has seen little in the way of friendly smoke. If these bills are victorious on Thursday, and marijuana reform chisels deeper into the seemingly impenetrable granite state, New Hampshire will finally join the rest of New England in medical marijuana legalization and small-possession decriminalization.

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