A piece of legislation making its way through New Hampshire’s state government is causing riffs in the State Senate and House of Representatives over who will lead a commission tasked with deciding the fate of legal weed in the Granite State.
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, House Bill 215 began as a piece of legislation aimed at establishing a bipartisan, wide-spectrum exploratory committee to investigate the regulations, tax benefits, and potential issues the state could see in a future with recreational cannabis legalization. Since then, the bill has gone through State Senate changes that removed the committee’s pro-pot members, leading New Hampshire’s cannabis advocates and lawmakers to call on Governor Chris Sununu to veto the bill they once championed.
“The commission envisioned by the final bill includes numerous vocal opponents, such as the Association of Chiefs of Police and New Futures, but it does not include any known supporters.” A letter, signed by 11 New Hampshire Representatives and sent to Sununu, reads.
In the House’s original version of the the bill, the committee would still have had members of law enforcement groups, but would also have input from representatives from groups like the ACLU and the Marijuana Policy Project. The new version of the bill leaves the progressive groups on the outside and gives all of the regulatory power to the state’s anti-cannabis activists.
“New Hampshire should absolutely study marijuana legalization, but this isn’t the way to go about it.” Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “There are no supporters of legalization on the study commission and there are several opponents, so we just don't see this as a fair discussion from day one."
The current version of the bill would establish the commission with six legislators, and varied health, banking and revenue experts. If cannabis advocates’ calls for a veto aren’t met, the group would be responsible for reporting back with recommendations as to continue prohibition or pursue legalization.
So far, Governor Sununu has not given his opinion or hinted at his stance on the shifting legalization commission.