New Hampshire legislators on Wednesday voted to move forward a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The House voted 209-147 to pass a measure that would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
Representative Stephen Pearson was among the bill's opponents. He said the bill would further a drug culture in a state already battling an opioid epidemic.
"We are not going to solve our drug crisis by legalizing more drugs, that is a fundamentally flawed argument," Pearson said.
Other lawmakers raised concerns about the health effects of marijuana use and whether it leads to other drug use.
"Allowing big marijuana into New Hampshire will allow this major industry to manufacture, sell and market an addictive substance to our kids, setting them up for a long-term health problem,” said Representative Linda Harriott-Gathright, who stood in opposition to the bill.
Others, like Representative Carol McGuire, made the argument that marijuana users would continue with or without the bill, which also calls for a commission to regulate the potential legal marijuana industry in the state.
"We're not really here to decide if marijuana is good or bad. We're here to decide whether it should be legal or illegal," McGuire said.
If the measure becomes law, New Hampshire would join the neighboring states of Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts, which have all legalized recreational pot.