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Marijuana Legalization Could Create Financial Complications For N.H.'s Banks

DD via Flickr Creative Commons

Members of a House committee heard from state agencies such as corrections, agriculture, and banking this morning about the impact of legalizing marijuana in the Granite State.

Officials from several state agencies told members of the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday that the drug’s illegal status at the federal level could complicate the issue.

Deputy Commissioner of the state’s Banking Department Ingrid White says while federal officials say they won’t prosecute in states that have legalized marijuana, that’s only the position of the current administration.

“Until there’s a change in federal law, it’s still a risky thing for banks to be accepting deposits and making loans to these types of entities. Our position on it would be that we’d have to…when we’re doing examinations, we’d have to comment on that. And it would be reflected in the banks ratings.”

The debate over legalization has ramped up in the Granite State since the House passed a bill earlier this month making it legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce.

Director of Administration for the Department of Corrections Robert Mullen told lawmakers the effect on the state prison system would likely be minimal.

“In the prison system as of today, there is a grand total of 94 inmates who are in state prison one of the charges being marijuana.”

Mullen says only five of those inmates are incarcerated only for felony marijuana possession of an ounce or more.

The bill limits sales to retail marijuana stores, where it would be taxed, but also allows for people to grow their own.

Cities and towns would have the right to prohibit or restrict the number of growers or retailers in their communities.

The bill must go back to the full House before making its way to the Senate, but Governor Maggie Hassan already promised to the veto legislation should it reach her desk.

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