Marijuana Legalization Added to N.H. Democrats' Platform

Jun 24, 2018

N.H. Democrats have added marijuana legalization as a plank in their party platform.
 

Marijuana legalization is now part of the New Hampshire Democratic Party platform.

Democrats meeting in Stratham for their convention on Saturday supported recreational use of pot for adults. 

"We believe that marijuana should be legalized, taxed and regulated," the resolution reads.

State delegates also approved a resolution advocating the removal of marijuana from the federal list of Schedule I drugs, those considered most dangerous, like heroin and cocaine.

Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, voiced his support for legalization earlier this month.

It's become a perennial debate for state lawmakers. The House passed a pot legalization bill earlier this year before ultimately rejecting it. When President Trump recently signaled he would support a bipartisan effort for states to adopt such measures, the top Democrat in the New Hampshire Senate announced he would again draft a marijuana legalization bill for next year.

The platform adoption comes as a New Hampshire commission continues to study marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation. It is set to issue a report Nov. 1

Cannabis advocates contend that the Granite State is following behind neighboring states, which permit recreational marijuana in some way.

Vermont in January legalized the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. Maine has voted to legalize recreational marijuana, despite opposition from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Marijuana shops are scheduled to open in Massachusetts on July 1.

Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District primary, said he supports state-level legalization.

"It's clearly a matter of when and not if marijuana gets legalized in New Hampshire," he said. "I think that at the point in time when it is legalized we need to be ready to make sure that public safety is protected."

Pappas predicted voters would be considering pot policy this fall, but he said he doubted it would be their top issue. Health care and the economy likely will take precedence, he said.

Mindi Messmer, another Democrat running for the 1st District seat, is a co-sponsor of the marijuana legalization resolution.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand both said they back marijuana legalization. 

Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, has said he opposes marijuana legalization.

The governor signed a bill into law last year that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.

New Hampshire has a medical marijuana program under a state law enacted in 2013. There are currently four therapeutic cannabis dispensaries in the state.