Marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense in New Hampshire. Granite State residents still can’t buy their weed in retail shops or legally grow their own at home, but thanks to decriminalization legislation passed earlier this year, no one will be spending time in jail for a few dime bags.
According to Tom Angell at Forbes, anyone caught in New Hampshire with three quarters of an ounce of weed or less will be subject to a simple fine of $100 for a first or second time offense. On a third possession stop within three years, the fine jumps to $300, before finally becoming a criminal misdemeanor only on the fourth such police encounter.
Before this weekend, even carrying one gram of marijuana was subject to a misdemeanor criminal charge worth up to $2,000 in fines and one year in jail.
“There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession,” Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, a cannabis advocacy group that lobbied lawmakers to pass decriminalization, said in a press release.
Even with a Republican Governor at the helm, the legislation passed easily, with New Hampshire now joining the rest of New England with either decriminalization or legalization on the books.
For New Hampshire’s residents and cannabis advocates, decriminalization is a good start, but one that should lead to comprehensive legalization sooner rather than later. According to University of New Hampshire poll from earlier this year, 68% of residents support marijuana legalization.
“New Hampshire lawmakers should continue to follow their constituents’ lead on this issue,” Simon said. “Every state in New England is either implementing or strongly considering legislation to regulate marijuana for adult use. It is time for the Legislature to develop a realistic marijuana prohibition exit strategy for New Hampshire.”