New Hampshire Decriminalizes Marijuana

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CONCORD, N.H.  — A law in New Hampshire decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana goes into effect Saturday.

New Hampshire just became the 22nd state in the U.S. to eliminate the possibility of spending time behind bars for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Earlier this year, lawmakers passed, and Republican Governor Chris Sanunu signed, a bill to decriminalize cannabis in the Granite State.

The law reduces the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce. People will not be arrested and will be fined $100 for the first and second offense.  The punishment rises to a $300 fine for the third offense within a three-year period.  If a person gets caught with a fourth offense within the three-year window, they will be filed and charged with a class B misdemeanor.

 

Until now, first-time cannabis possession was treated as a criminal misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year behind bars and a $2,000 fine.New Hampshire joins more than 20 states, including all New England, in easing criminal penalties on pot. Under the new law, police cannot arrest someone for a marijuana violation. Any money collected from the fines will go toward alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment.Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who lobbied lawmakers to pass the decriminalization bill, stated that

“There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession.”

Advocates want the state to go even further by fully legalizing marijuana and regulating its sales. Recent polls released this past May indicated that 68% of adults in the state support cannabis legalization. New Hampshire lawmakers also approved legislation this year to create a study commission to examine the future legalization in the state. Its finding

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