After a vote from the state House of Representatives, a New Hampshire marijuana decriminalization bill is headed to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk. On June 1, 2017, the House approved House Bill 640, which would reduce the penalty for minor possession of marijuana.
According to NH1, Sununu has already voiced his intent on signing the bill. “We’ll let the legislature go through their process and we’ll see where it ends up but I do believe in the decriminalization aspect of marijuana,” Sununu said this past April. “Obviously not the full legalization. Those are two very different issues.”
In the original draft, the House sought to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, but the Senate altered the amount to three-quarters of an ounce to which the House agreed. Under HB 640, the penalty would change from a misdemeanor to a civil violation, with first offenders receiving a $100 fine. Second and third offenses would be fined $200 and $350, respectively.
“We applaud the New Hampshire House in voting to concur with the Senate version of the bill and urge the Governor to sign into law without delay,” said Devon Chaffee, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.
As reported by the New Hampshire Public Radio, the bill was introduced 40 years ago by Rep. Chuck Grassie.
“We are going to get these people who are convicted of minor crimes of possession of small amounts of marijuana out of the criminal system, out of the jail system,” Grassie said.
New Hampshire marijuana decriminalization bills have made it through the House numerous times in the past, but HB 640 is the first to clear the Senate. Upon Sununu’s signature, New Hampshire will be the final New England state to decriminalize marijuana.