A 19-year-old New Hampshire lawmaker is preparing to introduce bills that would decriminalize psilocybin and all other drugs throughout the state.
Rep. Tony Labranche (D) recently filed official requests to introduce new drug decriminalization bills into the state's 2022 legislative session. The full details of the bills have yet to be released, but Labranche told Marijuana Moment that one of the bills would exclusively focus on removing criminal penalties for possession or use of psilocybin, while other legislation would aim to fully decriminalize the possession of any illicit drug.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Labranche said. “Personally, I don’t think anybody who suffers from substance use disorder should be criminalized, period. In some cases, like magic mushrooms, those aren’t the hard drugs that are dangerous. And I believe that people should have the right to use it and it should be legalized.”
Decriminalizing psychedelics and other drugs may be a hard sell for a state that hasn't even legalized adult-use cannabis, though. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) remains thoroughly opposed to legal weed, although he did recently sign bills adding opioid use disorder, insomnia, and autism as qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program.
New Hampshire is actually the only state in the Northeast where recreational weed remains prohibited. The state House passed a bill that would place an adult-use legalization amendment on the 2022 state election ballot, but the state Senate killed the bill. Lawmakers plan to reintroduce this bill for next year's legislative session, however. The House also passed a bill that would have allowed medical marijuana patients to grow their own weed, but that bill also died in the Senate.
Labranche acknowledged that his decriminalization effort would be an uphill battle. “I don’t see it happening in the near future due to the current political climate,” he told Marijuana Moment. The young Democrat believes that “incremental steps are the right way to go... I believe that it’s the natural progression. [Addiction is] a public health issue, it should not be a criminal justice issue.”
In addition to Labranche's proposed bill, state Rep. Stacie-Marie Laughton (D) has also filed a request to propose a bill that would repeal prohibitions against possessing illegal drugs and redirect funding to substance abuse services. Meanwhile, in Kansas, 20-year-old state Rep. Aaron Coleman (D) has filed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of most drugs in that state.
Oregon is currently leading the country when it comes to reforming antiquated drug laws, but other states and cities are fighting to catch up. Last fall, Oregon voters approved two separate ballot measures that legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin and decriminalized the possession of all other drugs. Ann Arbor, Denver, Oakland, and other US cities have individually decriminalized natural psychedelics over the past two years, and lawmakers in California and other states are working to enact those reforms on a state level.