Marijuana remains illegal in New Hampshire amid wave of nationwide changes

Samantha Jette, Copy Eidtor

While neighboring New England states have legalized marijuana in recent years, it has remained illegal in New Hampshire. Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and Canada have all legalized recreational marijuana for people over 21 years old. Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s attempts to legalize marijuana came to a halt in legislature this year. Possession of small amounts of the substance was, however, reduced to a violation, punishable by a $100 fine, as reported by The Concord Monitor.

New Hampshire state officials claim that pot legalization would not be in the best interest of the citizens. On Dec. 14, 2018, Governor Chris Sununu told a state drug-abuse panel that he is opposed to marijuana legalization. He stated that it is “the next major battle” and that legalization would diminish the state’s progress in overcoming the debilitating opioid crisis. In fact, Governor Sununu has hired a lobbyist to spread this message.

However, Matt Simon, New England political director with the Marijuana Policy Project, said that pot legalization would actually have a positive effect on those suffering from the opioid crisis, as some drug users find that cannabis eases withdrawal symptoms, according to the Boston Globe.

After the 2018 Midterm elections, the Democratic party now makes up the majority of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate. Many Democratic representatives hold platforms that support legalization of pot. In fact, State Representative Renny Cushing has proposed a bill that would legalize and regulate pot. The bill is sponsored by 11 other representatives from both sides of the aisle.

Despite these efforts, Governor Sununu has declared he will veto any legalization bill that he comes across. If this were the case, then lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would need a two-thirds majority to overrule his veto in order to legalize marijuana.

Many New Hampshire residents argue that this stance on legalization opposes the state’s “live free or die” motto. While for many residents, it is a short drive to a neighboring state where it is legal to purchase pot, it is a federal offense to transport it across state lines.

While at the moment, legalization is only hypothetical, The Crier explored the stance that Saint Anselm College would take in the event of legalization in New Hampshire.

According to Director of Health Services, Maura Marshall, “The stance is firm. Marijuana is not federally legal. Saint Anselm College receives federal funding and abides by federal regulations. Therefore, Marijuana is not legal on the campus of Saint Anselm College. The state legalization holds no weight.”