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Bill To Give N.H. Judges More Leeway In Pot Cases Has Backing Of Police

Heath Alseike via Flickr CC

A bill that aims make it easier for judges to treat the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana as a violation is winning favor at the state house and has the  support of the  New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs, which has always opposed loosening state drug laws.

Marijuana decriminalization has passed the New Hampshire House several times. But no decriminalization bill has won favor in the senate. One reason why is the staunch opposition by New Hampshire law enforcement.

What this bill would do is reclassify the possession of less than an ounce of Marijuana as a simple misdemeanor, rather than a Class A misdemeanor. New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs President Robert Cormier told a house committee that that will give judges more latitude to treat marijuana possession as a violation, without decriminalizing it.

"We think it accomplishes the same goal without sending out the message to teens that its not a crime any more. What we didn't want to do was sent out a message that its the same thing as a stop sign violation and its okay to do it now."

The bill has the backing of the Attorney General's office and anti-drug abuse advocates, has already cleared the state senate. The New Hampshire House, which earlier this month voted to decriminalize up to a half ounce of marijuana, will vote on the bill soon.    

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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