NH Bill Would Decriminalize Marijuana

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 03/26 2014 07:39PM

Updated 03/26 2014 07:42PM

Lebanon, NH.- New Hampshire’s House rejected a bill that would have legalized possession of a small amount of marijuana. While the governor and police are pleased, people we spoke with say they supported it.

Legalizing a small amount of marijuana in New Hampshire is something some people support.

“You know I don’t really see a problem with it, it was grown on this earth why should it be made so that we can't use it,” said Cierra Conway.

A bill that would have legalized one ounce of marijuana for recreational use for anyone 21 and older was voted down by the state house Wednesday. But those same lawmakers passed a bill a few weeks ago that decriminalizes the possession and growing of marijuana.

“I think decriminalizing it is a step in the right direction,” said Jeff Giamio.

Decriminalizing the drug would significantly reduce the penalties for possessing less than an ounce of the drug - making it a civil offense, not a criminal one. The bill states it would be punishable by up to a one hundred dollar fine and it would make growing up to six marijuana plants a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

“Let’s be real here, there are people that use it and I don’t see a problem,” said Conway.

But Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate worries that would be tough to enforce.

“It sends the wrong message to our kids. But it also creates a number of other problems. The health issues that are out there, we have a huge problem with opiate and prescription drug abuse already and this is just going to add to it,” said Chief Crate.

And Governor Maggie Hassan agrees although she signed a medical marijuana bill into law last summer she's said she doesn't support decriminalizing or legalizing the drug. But people we spoke with say legalizing even a small amount and taxing it is something they'd like considered.

“Whether marijuana is legal or not, there will always be addicts so why not take that money and put it into treatment services,” said Giamio.

New Hampshire lawmakers killed a bill today to legalize a small amount of marijuana. A bill to decriminalize or lessen the penalty for possession passed the house and is on its way to the Senate.

But even if the bill passes the Senate it remains to be seen what the governor will do with it.

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