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With Marijuana Legalization Across All Borders, What Does It Mean For N.H.?

The marijuana legalization debate returns to the Granite State.  Advocates have been trying to legalize pot here for years, and this session, lawmakers are again taking up the issue.  On Tuesday, we examine the arguments. Advocates say legalization could lead to a decline in the use of more dangerous drugs.  But opponents warn of unintended consequences, including the impact on babies born to mothers who consume cannabis while pregnant. We'll also examine the broader context, as New Hampshire's three neighboring states have all legalized.   


  • Kate Frey -  Vice president of advocacy for New Futures, a public health advocacy organization. The group opposeslegalization of marijuana. 
  • Matt Simon -  New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. Simon's group supportspassage of HB481, which would legalize recreational marijana. 
  • Dan Tuohy - Digital engagement producer for NHPR. He has extensively covered issues and debates related to marijuana. See below for some of his coverage. Read his rundown of 2019 bills related to marijuana.   

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State Representative Renny Cushing, sponsor of a bipartisan bill proposing the legalization of marijuana, says his bill addresses the concerns raised by a commission that studied the issue over many months, producing a 264-page reportlast November. 

As the legalization bill approached its first hearing, critics ralliedin opposition.

N.H.'s opioid crisis has been on the minds of many debatingwhether the state should legalize recreational marijuana. 

At a recent hearing opponents and suppoters squared off in Representatives' Hall, debating HB 481, which would legalize and regulate cannabis. The bill declares that the use of cannabis "should be legal for a person 21 years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol."

In Massachusetts, the rollout of legal pot was a bit slow at first but is expected to gain momentum this year, with regulators potentially shifting from getting the industry fully off the ground to focusing more on scientific research. 

With "mixed emotions," Vermont's Governor Phil Scott signed a law allowing recreational use of marijuana, making Vermont the ninth state to legalize pot and  thefirst state to do so through its state legislature. 

In Maine, voters approved a law licensing and regulating adult-use cannabis in 2016, but there have been severalpolitical twists and turns since. 

And last October, the NY Times reports: Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana. 

In 2018, the Pew Research Center foundthat 62% of Americans favor legalization of marijuana. 

Still, questions persist, even as more states embrace legalization. 

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