After Lengthy Floor Debate, New Hampshire House of Representatives Approves Marijuana Legalization

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 15, 2014

    After a heated and lengthy debate on the floor of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the lower chamber of New Hampshire’s legislature today voted 170 to 162 in favor of House Bill 492, which seeks to legalize under state law the personal use and home cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older and establish regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis.

    The historic vote makes the New Hampshire House the first state legislative chamber to ever vote in favor of regulating cannabis.

    House Bill 492 had initially received a “Ought Not to Pass” report from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. However, in New Hampshire legislative rules permit all House measures to receive floor votes by the full House. This afternoon, House lawmakers debated the measure for more than three hours before voting 170 to 168 to accept the committee report. But this was just the beginning.

    Members of the House of Representatives voted 173 to 165 to reconsider their actions and hold a revote. On their second vote, a majority 170 members voted to reject the “Ought Not to Pass” report. House lawmakers then voted to adopt amendments to adjust minor details of the bill. More debate ensued, but when the final vote was held 170 voted in favor of approving HB492 as amended and sending it to and 162 voted in opposition.

    “This vote is historic,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Today’s vote approving House Bill 492 is the first time a chamber of a state legislature has ever approved of legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults. Fifty-eight percent of Americans support ending our prohibition on marijuana and the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ actions today signal that politicians are finally beginning to acknowledge the will of their constituents.”

    Tax issues pertaining to the bill will now be debated by the House Ways and Means Committee. A second House floor vote is anticipated in the coming months. However, Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan has already stated her opposition to this measure.

    NORML will keep you updated on this evolving situation.

    74 Responses to “After Lengthy Floor Debate, New Hampshire House of Representatives Approves Marijuana Legalization”

    1. John Hilger says:

      This is a copy of my response to a NORML letter announcing an upcoming web seminar on marijuana sponsored the the NH Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors Assn. It’s high time this issue was addressed by adults without rabid accusations of moral decay and witchcraft. I wrote this before I saw your article, and I’m just not politically aware enough to understand the continuing controversy.

      John Hilger
      35 Baptist Road
      Canterbury, NH 03224

      An open letter to NORML, ASA, MPP and public officials and policy makers

      This upcoming discussion of marijuana policy is awesome. I hope there are police and lawyers in place in case rabidly ‘moral’ people try to fire-bomb the building. I doubt anyone in New Hampshire will see it on WMUR or in the Monitor or Union Leader. I’ve been politely posting the cons of prohibition to a couple media sites here in the nanny state and no one seems to want to talk about it. NH has a stalled medical marijuana statute which probably represents a great political risk taken by a comparatively reasonable governor, but which still does not provide access to medication or protection from retaliation for patients.

      The mere sight of a doobie is enough to mark anyone as a morally-deficient drug-addled criminal that will hopefully ‘get help’ from the mandatory jails, fines, rehabs, psychologists, drug testing labs, etc. This extreme attitude by a few scaredy-cat, wealthy, white people tends to educate one quickly in how to avoid the scrutiny of the prohibitionists. Of course, that and the backlash of actually using one’s health insurance, is enough to discourage anyone with any type of actual physical dependence from getting into a rehab.

      Oddly enough, if a (nice, white, well-spoken, polite, well-funded) person is accused of the crime of possession or intent to purchase a narcotic (dream police division) the ‘defendant’ is often allowed to ‘get off’ with only a prepaid rehab ($6,000-11,000), court and probation fines ($1,200+), drug testing fees ($600+), a tracking device implanted in your left nut, and a public apology for being so immoral.

      You can be sure a bed in a nice country club rehab will be available for a well-funded white person. Some scaremonger political and religious leaders profit directly from prohibition industries, and many use the stigma of reefer madness to excuse questionable political or legal actions against personal enemies. Some people, I would estimate 40%, have been quietly using cannabis at least occasionally for the last 40 years. It is still possible to avoid nanny employers who drug test. Such otherwise law-abiding people must regard the police as something less than their “friend.”

      Despite this, individual officers dislike enforcing prohibition, and some mature ones will confiscate your stash and ball you out, rather than arrest you. As a well-spoken white boy with several successful businesses and a paralegal certificate, I probably have a dozen nol-prossed arrests for possession. I’m afraid my grandkids would go to prison if they are caught with a couple of doobies.

      Marijuana prohibition is by far the greatest injustice I’ve ever been aware of.
      I grew up with a daily fistfight because I was a good little Christian boy wearing polyester slacks and a sweater vest to junior high in 1969. I didn’t try pot until I was 20 because I was afraid I’d be instantly possessed by demons. What a load of crap. I’ve seen the Berlin wall come down, and the USSR become the current Russian Federation. I’ve seen a black man who dares to say, ‘yes I inhaled, that’s the whole point of it’ become President despite having an arab-sounding name. I will remember Obama as the President who had the gonads to speak reasonably about marijuana prohibition despite the best efforts of his enemies. And as the President that supported the increasing number of states which no longer wish to jail their citizens for responsible, adult marijuana use. It is sad that a respected public figure like US Attorney General Eric Holder would only be able to suggest that these laws might need another look after announcing his retirement from office (and from political assassination).

      I’ve sat in a circle on the state house lawn and passed around a bong. Some legislators walked past, coming back from lunch, and several of them had to assure one companion that we would not rape and kill and there was no need to bother us. That was 1984. Since then I have seen cannabis in many homes over many decades, from senators to doctors and lawyers to captains of industry and police officers. I wouldn’t expect people in NH to be publicly reasonable or tolerant today. There is too much fear of retaliation.

      JFK was the last president who dared to openly support the legalization of marijuana, and possibly a warning example. Many people don’t even know that several of the Kennedys quietly, illegally, used cannabis for pain management. The recent push for legalization is much more powerful, with the support of so many people that it’s hard to cry ‘what about the children’ or misapply a scripture to accuse a patient or recreational user of witchcraft or sorcery.

      Slick lobbyists from MPP, ASA and NORML (I approve, free lunches make the world go ’round, so patients must work the corrupt system) are bringing the issue before reluctant lawmakers everywhere.

      The obvious grasping at straws by prohibitionists at the DEA and other agencies whose ultimate power to seize assets and imprison with impunity are threatened is obvious to an open-minded human being. The best recent arguments by government “experts” against legalization are: puppies may be exposed to second-hand smoke, what about the children? (not answered, just asked as a scare tactic), studies (whose?) have shown that if mice are injected with the equivalent of a kilo of weed for six months, they develop some laziness so marijuana use may impair those who smoke a kilo of weed in grade school. Pretty pathetic excuses for jailing hundreds of thousands of citizens.

      If people would follow the example of many well-respected professionals such as Dr. Sanjya Gunta, admit they were duped by misinformation, and move forward, every citizen in the US would be better off. People are scared. Their current jobs could be in jeopardy if they speak candidly.

      I am an educated white boy, pushing 60, disabled due to spinal injuries. My medical record makes it difficult for anyone to dispute my disability. I was mostly self-employed, and paid taxes on every cent, so have been rewarded with government benefits which meet my basic needs, not counting teeth. I have no employer, probation officer, mandatory psychologist, schoolmarm or nanny to harass me for being honest. I have not even been ‘knowingly in the presence of’ marijuana since I became disabled and needed public housing. I would sure like to be, however. Cannabis is quite effective for pain management, and doesn’t have the side effects that opiates and alcohol do.

      I was a good Christian white boy, quit the weed again in 2009, spent months and thousands of dollars on specialist doctor visits, imaging scans and fees to interpret the scans, and physical therapy. I was rewarded with a reasonable amount of oxycodone and muscle relaxers –after suffering through trials of several SSRI/NSAID combos as a prerequisite. Mild tranquilizers and sleeping pills were also prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder. I lined up at the doctors office for my drug test and prescription each month and spent most of my disposable income at the pharmacy. Like most patients who depend on prescription painkillers, my life revolved around my prescription.

      I had the oxycodone less than 3 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and hit a large pine tree on a Saturday afternoon. I had not had a drop of alcohol in 11 years, not a puff of marijuana for 4 or 5 years, and was actually just tired and using coffee to stay awake like most Americans do daily. I hadn’t even taken my prescribed medications because I was tired. When a passerby reported the accident, she was repeatedly asked by dispatch ‘does he seem disoriented, could he be ‘on something’? Finally, the passerby admitted that I seemed a little shaky, but noted that I had assured her I was able to wait a couple minutes for first responders. The responding state police officer and medical personnel were polite enough, but didn’t want to believe someone could fall asleep at the wheel without being guilty of something. A new type of state police officer, a drug nazi (not sure of the official title), was called from way over in Rochester or Keene. This young punk disgraced the uniform. His job was to find something to charge me with regardless of the law or the facts. He was livid that I would question why he was detaining a disabled old man who should be home resting after bouncing off a large pine tree. He was even more enraged when I told him I couldn’t pass his sobriety tests on a good day because of my spinal injuries. If it were not for the other mature officer’s presence, I’m sure he would have planted evidence or beaten me. That is how hateful rabid prohibitionists with ultimate power can be. I was eventually charged with allegedly using my prescription medication.

      The wealthy white male judge who heard my case told me, in closing, that I had done a good job of disproving the prosecution’s case and hinted that the charges should be dropped. He then proceed to say “but the cops think you were up to something, and I believe them.” That was his justification for finding me “guilty anyhow.”

      Perhaps he didn’t believe me when I told him that any conviction would result in a permanent loss of license, since I could never find the thousands of dollars needed to ransom my license back from the government contractors and agencies that each wanted a few hundred dollars in fines or fees. Perhaps the fact that the courts are self-funded, or that the judges’ retirement is funded by convictions and fines, had nothing to do with my false conviction. I’ve been in court as a defendant and as a plaintiff or lay counsel. I sat in on court sessions all day for several days recently, and not a single person was found not guilty. The best a lawyer can do is negotiate the amount of your punishment and fine.

      Since that stupidity, I have done without a drivers’ license and have replaced my prescription medications with traditional chinese medicine, diet and exercise, and over the counter medications. That alone earned me an 8-day stay in the local mental institution, where I was evaluated for “instability.” In reality, the old, scared, white people were certain I must be in need of institutionalization since my life no longer revolved around the pharmacy. I was able to be persuasive enough that a leading medical doctor, after researching the plant-based medicines I used, discharged me with nothing but a recommendation that I call my doctor and an appreciation for non western medicine. I was lucky. I might have spent a couple years in various institutions, for my own good of course, until I publicly proclaimed my sobriety and moral rehabilitation.

      Again, too many people make too much money from prohibition. The system as it exists now, is nothing but government-sponsored re-programming. It has no redeeming value to the public. It funds some of the worst hate mongers in the public sector.

      I am not politically active, though the harm of prohibition and the crazy penalties imposed have impacted the lives of every citizen in my generation to the point that I take the opportunity to speak honestly when I can. If the prohibitionists succeed in harassing me for being honest, I’ll take the next greyhound to Denver or LA.

      It’s time to stop the madness –the madness of prohibition. Imagine how much better police would be regarded by citizens if they didn’t have to enforce unpopular prohibition laws. Imagine a young person who over indulges in a substance being able to seek help without being branded as an “addict” and losing the right to a student loan, a mortgage, a decent job, the right to vote, ad nauseum. Imagine a professional helping someone to learn moderation rather than forcing each patient to repeat the “I will never even use aspirin again while I cling to my 20 oz. coffee cup” mantra of the dry drunks employed as counselors. These unreasonable people will not ‘pass’ anyone through one of their mandatory programs unless they preach total abstinence and moral recovery. What happened to moderation and self-control?

      I’ve succeeded in spending an hour writing this manifesto when I should be working on my tax filing. As a citizen and as a Christian, I’ve been misinformed by both government agencies and fellow Christians and have been discouraged from expressing any reasonable attitude for fear of being branded ‘immoral’ or a ‘sorcerer’. Wouldn’t want to upset the sheeple. I’ve suffered for 40 years with that BS and believe it is time to stop the madness.

      If anyone in the nanny state has the courage to publish an honest interview with a citizen, I’ll take the chance than some retard will try character assassination rather than logic or reason to justify their support of prohibition. I’d send this to the media outlets, but they censor everything, and refuse to discuss it out of fear of retaliation.

      Fee free to publish this anywhere you like. I place it in the public domain.

    2. Mike Seewald says:

      Being from the “Great State of New York” we are under the rule of His Highness King Cuomo who is now dragging his feet on the medical marijuana bill. Being close to retirement age I have looked to New Hampshire for my golden years. If it should come to pass then, being an occasional user , I would enjoy making New Hampshire my home. I wish there was something I could do to help you folks out. It’s about time that we all should have freedom of choice.

    3. Ray Walker Jr. says:


      First of all I’ve used the link NORML provided:
      Go there and do the patriotic thing and voice yourselves and then read the whole document as I did:

      @pau hana
      I googled the name, and it came back with this:
      The time after work. It is considered a time for relaxation, informal socializing with friends and family, and enjoyment.
      That really cool. and I hope this helps you and anyone else in New Hampshire.

      Below is a partial copy of HB 492 that has been cherry picked to only include those sections that pertaining to Personal Use and Personal Cultivation.

      Give thanks to these guys and always remember who they are. They worked hard on this.

      Rep. Vaillancourt, Hills 15
      Rep. Warden, Hills 39
      Rep. Winters, Hills 18
      Rep. Lambert, Hills 44
      Rep. Robertson, Ches 6

      COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

      This bill among other things Legalizes the personal use of up to one ounce of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older.

      Personal Use of Marijuana. If you’re 21 years of age or older, the following acts will be legal under New Hampshire law. And the following also won’t be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets.
      (I’ve put my two cents in where I think needed in parenthesis.)

      I. Possessing, consuming, using, displaying, obtaining, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories, or marijuana in the amount of one ounce or less including up to 5 grams of hashish.
      (Pretty simple, no more than an ounce.)

      II. Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than 6 marijuana plants, with 3 or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown.
      (This one seems to be open for interpretation because it doesn’t speak about quantity. I can see 6 immature plants quickly getting over an ounce.)

      III. Transferring one ounce or less of marijuana and up to 6 immature marijuana plants to a person who is 21 years of age or older without remuneration.
      (Simple, NO MONEY involved. Pay it forward.)

      IV. Transferring or selling marijuana seeds or up to 6 marijuana seedlings to marijuana cultivation facilities.
      (I understand this to say its ok to sell seeds and 6 small plants to a licensed grower.)

      V. Assisting another person who is 21 years of age or older in any of the acts described in this section.
      (We should all teach each other to be good farmers)

      318-F:3 Restrictions on Personal Cultivation; Penalty.

      I. No person who is 21 years of age or older shall cultivate marijuana plants except as provided in this section.
      (These are the rules.)

      II. Marijuana plants shall not be cultivated in a location where the plants are subject to public view without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.
      (Anther not so clear one. Greenhouses even with frosted glass might be detectable with satellite multispectral or hyper-spectral imaging which is an “optical aid”. I’d just grow indoors.)

      III. A person who cultivates marijuana shall take reasonable precautions to ensure the plants are secure from unauthorized access. Cultivating marijuana in an enclosed, locked space to which unauthorized persons do not have access, or other similar security precautions, shall be prima facie evidence of reasonable precautions.
      (Lock it all up so that its a pain to deal with and thus a pain for all else.)

      IV. Marijuana cultivation shall only occur on property the cultivator legally owns, leases, or controls, or with the consent of the person who legally owns, leases, or controls the property.
      (Once again, simple.)

      V. A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a violation and may be fined not more than $750.

      318-F:4 Public Smoking of Marijuana Prohibited; Penalty.

      I. No person shall smoke marijuana in a public place.

      II. A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a violation and may be punished by a fine of not more than $100.

      Well, other than the one ounce restriction its pretty fair and clear. Like I’ve said before, they could just start by throwing all the laws about it in the trash, but thats not going to happen anytime soon.

    4. pua mana says:

      So does this Include The Right to Grow Your Own Medicine ? Or will it force to be a Slave to Gov.-Tax-Pot ???????
      Don’t trade your God-Given Right to Grow a Plant for the Servitude of Paying Tax on a Plant that was Created FREE !

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