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N.H. House Panel Wants Pot Legalization Bill Shelved

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A House committee voted Monday to recommend that a bill to legalize marijuana be sent to interim study.

It's the second time the legislation has come out of a committee with a negative recommendation–advocates view the “interim study” recommendation as "an egregious attempt" to kill the bill. In January, the full House overturned a committee recommendation to pass the bill.

The debate ensues as a separate commission is studying the legalization, regulation, and taxation of recreational marijuana. It's due to issue its findings by Nov. 1.

Kate Frey sits on that commission. She is vice president of advocacy for New Futures, a non-profit health advocacy group. After the House Ways and Means Committee's vote Monday, she said the "interim study" recommendation makes sense and gives the study commission time to complete its work. 

In a statement, she said the evidence is clear that "marijuana legalization will have detrimental impacts on New Hampshire's thriving communities."

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, questioned the committee's role in reviewing the bill, since the committee is a tax committee - and the legislation was stripped of any proposed tax or commercial market. He argues the time is now to legalize pot. He cites public support in polls and the fact that three neighboring states now have marijuana legalization.

The bill would permit adults to possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana, 5 grams of hashish, and certain marijuana-infused products. Adults could also grow up to six pot plants at home.

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