The New Hampshire Senate has rejected a bill that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in the state. Currently in New Hampshire, marijuana possession of any amount is a misdemeanor and punishable with up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The bill would have changed the law to decriminalize a person’s first two marijuana possession charges of less than a half an ounce.
Under House Bill 1526, the first offense of possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana would be a $250 fine. The second would be a $500 fine. Any additional marijuana possession charges would be a possible year of jail and a $1000 fine. Any offenders under 21 may have also been ordered to complete a drug awareness program. The Bill narrowly passed the House in March by a 162-161 vote.
There was much debate during that vote and at the same time they voted overwhelmingly 228-89 to kill a second measure to regulate and legalize marijuana. Gov. John Lynch had promised to veto both measures at the time. The Senate has now saved him the trouble. A Senate Committee that looked over the bill had recommended that the Senate kill the bill, and without ANY debate before the vote, bill was voted down. The bill will not become a law this year.
Claire Ebel, the executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union commented yesterday that the current law is not proportionate to the crime, and that the effect of marijuana convictions, particularly on young people includes the inability to be employed in most government agencies, join the military or get student loans.