Sununu Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | New Hampshire Public Radio

Sununu Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Jul 19, 2017

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Governor Chris Sununu has signed a bill that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana.

Under the new law set to take effect in 60 days, those in possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce would face a civil violation and be subject to a fine of up to $100 for a first offense.

New Hampshire is now the 22nd state and the last in New England to decriminalize small amounts of the drug.

“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sununu’s predecessor, was opposed to marijuana decriminalization, and had threatened to veto it, should it reach her desk.

The House had historically been in favor of decriminalization, but the state Senate had always been the biggest hurdle. That hurdle was cleared earlier this year when the Senate passed it.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat, was the bill’s prime sponsor.

“There’s a lot of collateral damage that’s done by arresting people for marijuana,” Cushing said in May. “We spend $35,000 a year to keep someone in jail, prison in this state for marijuana possession at a time when we don’t have enough money for beds for opioid addicts.”

Governor Sununu also signed a bill Tuesday that creates a commission to study the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. 

Voters in Massachusetts and Maine approved referendums last year legalizing recreational use of the drug.