New Hampshire is now poised to become one of the next states to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 318-36 in favor of a bill (HB 640) aimed at decriminalizing up to one ounce of marijuana. The proposal would allow law enforcement to simply issue a $100 fine to people caught in violation of the law. The fines would increase for repeat offenses.
As it stands, anyone busted with marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor, an offense that comes with up to a year in jail and fines reaching $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that still throws people in jail for this offense.
But does the latest decriminalization bill have what it takes this year to finally make its way through the Senate?
Similar measures have failed miserably in the upper chamber, but there is some hope that their attitude has changed with respect to the issue. After all, Republican Governor Chris Sununu has said that he fully supports getting rid of criminal offenses connected to petty pot possession – signaling that he plans to sign the bill if it lands on his desk.
Most of the opposition to this reform throughout the years can be attributed to former Governor Maggie Hassan, who threatened to veto decriminalization measures. With her out of the picture, advocates hope the bill will receive the appropriate attention.
“Most representatives agree it is time to stop wasting limited public resources on arrests for simple marijuana possession,” Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “We hope their colleagues in the Senate will agree that our tax dollars and law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes.”