On Saturday New Hampshire’s cannabis decriminalization law took effect. Those caught with 21 grams of cannabis or less no longer face criminal charges other than a civil violation and a small fine.
House Bill 640 was introduced by Rep. Renny Cushing in February. It was approved by the Senate on May 11 and Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill on July 18. “The governor and Legislature both deserve a lot of credit for moving the state forward with this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told NH1. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.” The MPP worked tirelessly to pass HB-640 and end criminal penalties.
Before Saturday, New Hampshire residents faced up to a year in prison plus a $2,000 fine. Now residents will merely receive a civil violation and a $100 fine if they are caught in possession of personal amounts of cannabis. A third offense will warrant a $300 fine, and a fourth offense risks a Class B misdemeanor charge and a $1,200 fine. Twenty-one grams of cannabis is more than enough to supply one individual. In other words, you’d have to go out of your way in order to earn a criminal charge for simple cannabis possession in New Hampshire.
It’s great news for patients and consumers living in New Hampshire. According to WMUR, the new law is expected to result in about an 80 percent decrease in New Hampshire cannabis cases ever heading to court.
The changes, according to NH1, make New Hampshire the last state in New England to decriminalize simple cannabis possession and remove criminal penalties. The next step is full legalization. New Hampshire residents overwhelmingly support legalizing cannabis with 68 percent approval according to a recent poll.