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NH Senate Kills Marijuana Decriminalization Bill 1526

NH Senate Kills Marijuana Decriminalization Bill 1526

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/09/2012 in Medical Marijuana Legalization

New Hampshire State Senate killed the bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana last Wednesday. The Senate killed the bill without debate, which passed through the New Hampshire House of Representatives by one vote back in March, but faced a premeditated and inevitable veto threat from Democrat Governor John Lynch.

The bill entitled House Bill 1526, would have made the possession of less than an half ounce of marijuana a first offense-violation punishable by a $250 fine, a second offense-violation that would’ve garnered up to a $500 fine and subsequent offenses that would have been considered misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine. However, under New Hampshire’s current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Under 1526, offenders under 21 could also have the possibility of being ordered into a drug awareness program.

New Hampshire Oppositions

As the Senate did not debate the bill last Wednesday, it did have a concurrence hearing in the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee last month. In the Judiciary Committee, familiar rhetoric was cantered out on both sides of the issue, with supporters of the bill saying young people with criminal records of marijuana would harm them, and opponents saying it would send entirely the wrong message to kids.

Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Karin Eckel, who spoke on behalf of herself and of the state police chiefs association, said, “This would undermine the fundamental message in the schools and that parents try to teach, and this is that using marijuana is a bad choice, is the wrong choice.” Eckel had been quoted on the record already for being against marijuana, saying, “This would undermine the fundamental message in the schools and that parents try to teach, and this is that using marijuana is a bad choice, is the wrong choice.”

The current law in New Hampshire is not proportionate to the crime that’s being committed, says Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.  “The effect of marijuana convictions on young people includes the inability to be employed in most government agencies or to join the military. It means they can’t get student loans,” she says.

House Bill 1526 is the most controversial of the three marijuana-related bills making their way through the New Hampshire state legislature. New Hampshire’s stance on decriminalization of marijuana is minuscule and a minority one within the whole region. As marijuana is already decriminalized in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, possession still remains only but a misdemeanor in Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. 

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