The New Hampshire House of Representatives preliminarily approved legislation on Wednesday that would legalize marijuana for recreational use, but Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has vowed to veto the bill.
Hassan signed a bill last year that legalized marijuana for medicinal marijuana use. But she told WMUR she doesn’t “support the decriminalization of marijuana any further” and plans to veto the new bill if it is approved by the state’s legislature.
The New Hampshire House voted 170-162 in favor of the bill, which would allow the purchase and possession of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
The bill would enact a $30 per ounce tax on retail sales of marijuana and allow residents to grow up to six marijuana plants at home.
“House members made history today, and they are clearly on the right side of it,” Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement.
“Marijuana prohibition has been an enormously expensive failure. Most Americans, including 60% of New Hampshire residents, agree that it is time to adopt a more sensible policy.”
Opponents of the bill say marijuana poses a public health risk and shouldn’t be legal. Rep. William Butynski (D-Hinsdale) said the House should wait to see how marijuana legalization pans out in Colorado and Washington state.
“Please use common sense. Be patient. Protect our children,” he said.
The legislation will be reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee before returning to the full House of Representatives for a second vote in a few months.
The New Hampshire House is the first legislative body in the country to approve marijuana legalization. The drug was legalized in Colorado and Washington state through voter referendums.
“This vote is historic,” said NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri. “Today’s vote approving House Bill 492 is the first time a chamber of a state legislature has ever approved of legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults.”
“Fifty-eight percent of Americans support ending our prohibition on marijuana and the New Hampshire General Assembly’s actions today signal that politicians are finally beginning to acknowledge the will of their constituents.”
[Image via Marc Nozell, Creative Commons licensed]