The New Hampshire Democratic Party just joined major political parties in New York and Texas by officially endorsing full cannabis legalization. Party officials adopted a measure in favor of legalization during this Saturday's Democratic convention in Stratham. State delegates also approved a resolution calling on the federal government to remove cannabis from the category of Schedule I drugs. "We believe that marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated," the party's new platform reads, according to the Associated Press.
This January, neighboring Vermont legalized personal-use possession and cultivation of marijuana, and legal weed will go on sale in Massachusetts in a matter of weeks. Maine has also legalized recreational adult use, but Governor Paul Le Page and other conservative politicians have successfully managed to delay retail sales until next year at least. New Hampshire has remained a stronghold of prohibition despite surrounding states' proactive stance on cannabis reform, but legislators are beginning to realize the inevitability of legalization.
"It's clearly a matter of when and not if marijuana gets legalized in New Hampshire," Chris Pappas, a Democrat who is running for Congress this year, said to the Associated Press. "I think that at the point in time when it is legalized, we need to be ready to make sure that public safety is protected." Both Democratic candidates for governor, Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand, have also both announced their full support for legalization.
Although both of these candidates support legal weed, incumbent Governor Chris Sununu, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary, remains antagonistic to the idea. Earlier this year, Sununu told the Concord Monitor that legalizing "full recreational marijuana when other states are seeing all the problems it has and issues it is bearing – it's definitely not something I'm supportive of right now."
The pressure of neighboring states' decisions to legalize also played a role in convincing New York's traditionally anti-cannabis leadership to get on board with cannabis reform. Faced by impending retail weed sales in Massachusetts and eventually New Jersey, incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state's Democratic Party finally endorsed legalization earlier this year. In a more surprising turn of events, the Texas Republican Party also announced their support for cannabis decriminalization. Texas Republicans, like the New Hampshire Democrats, also adopted a resolution calling for the federal rescheduling of cannabis.
Last September, the Granite State decriminalized weed possession, reducing the penalty for possessing three quarters of an ounce or less to a $100 fine with no prison time. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire House of Representatives also passed a limited cannabis legalization bill. Similar in scope to Vermont's legalization law, the bill would have allowed the personal cultivation and possession of pot but would still have banned legal retail sales. In March, however, the House sent the bill back to a committee, who chose to table it rather than advance it to the state Senate.
New Hampshire voters will get their chance to elect pro-legalization politicians at the Democratic primary on September 11th, and the general midterm election on November 6th.