Voter Guide Published!

Now that cannabis retail stores have opened in Vermont, many Granite Staters are asking “when will New Hampshire legalize?” It’s impossible to answer this question with certainty, but we know the upcoming election will have a huge impact on the odds.

The word “cannabis” will not appear on New Hampshire ballots in November. However, the individuals who are elected to the state legislature will determine the future of cannabis policy in our state. Since the 400-member House has already passed several legalization bills, more attention will be focused on candidates for the 24-member Senate.

At Prime ATC, we have no interest in telling you who to vote for, but we do encourage you to become an informed voter. Fortunately, the Marijuana Policy Project has published a detailed voter guide that makes it easy to do so. The voter guide focuses on races for state Senate and governor, and it includes candidates’ past votes, survey responses, and public statements.

If you’re a voter, we suggest that you take time to find out where candidates on your ballot stand on cannabis policy. If you decide a candidate is worthy of your support, that’s great! Candidates are always happy to receive positive messages from voters.

On the other hand, if you learn that a candidate does not share your views on cannabis policy, you may want to send them a message. The voter guide includes links to candidates’ websites and social media accounts, so you can reach out if you’d like to ask that they consider your perspective.

We hope you find this information helpful!

Screenshot of tweet from Marijuana Policy Project. "NH is the only state in New England that hasn't legalized and regulated cannabis for adults. That could finally change in 2023. Check out MPP's New Hampshire voter guide, which includes background on state Senate and gubernatorial candidates."

Click here to visit the voter guide.

Legalization Bills Defeated

The New Hampshire Senate has killed two cannabis legalization bills, eliminating any hope for legalization efforts in 2022. On Thursday, April 28, the Senate rejected HB 629 in a 9-15 vote. This bill would have legalized possession and limited home cultivation. If you’d like to see how your senator voted, the roll call vote is available here.

The Senate also killed the state monopoly bill (HB 1598) in a voice vote. Here is an article with more details on these two Senate votes.

The death of HB 629 is disappointing but not surprising. For legalization supporters, the only silver lining is the fact that senators will face re-election this year. When election season arrives, we will share information about where senators and candidates stand on cannabis policy so voters will be informed.

photo of state house dome

State Monopoly Cannabis Bill Rejected

It now appears certain that the state monopoly cannabis legalization bill will not pass in 2022. On Wednesday, April 20, the N.H. Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously voted against HB 1598. The bill will still receive a vote in the full Senate, but it is very unlikely to pass in light of this rejection by the committee.

If you’d like to read more about the Senate vote on HB 1598, check out this article.

In other news, the Senate postponed a vote that had been scheduled for another cannabis legalization bill. HB 629 was supposed to receive a vote on Thursday, April 21, after being approved in a 3-2 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The vote on this bill, which would simply legalize possession and limited home cultivation, will be rescheduled for another day.

If you haven’t already contacted your senator about HB 629, please look them up here and ask them to vote in favor!

photo of State house dome in Concord

Senate Considers Legalization Bills This Week!

The action on cannabis legalization bills has been heating up in Concord in the last few weeks. Last week, for the first time in New Hampshire history, a Senate committee voted in favor of a cannabis legalization bill! The Senate Judiciary Committee approved HB 629, the bill that would simply legalize possession and limited home cultivation for adults, in a 3-2 vote on Thursday, April 14. The full Senate will vote on the bill Thursday, April 21.

Prime ATC strongly supports HB 629, and we are grateful to the three senators on the Judiciary Committee who voted in favor: Senator Harold French, Senator Jay Kahn, and Senator Becky Whitley. If you’d like to read more about this history-making vote, here’s a news article. If you’d like to contact your state senator, you can find their contact info here.

But before the Senate votes on HB 629 on Thursday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday morning on the bill that would create a state monopoly for adult-use cannabis sales (HB 1598). Yes, you are reading that correctly – the state monopoly cannabis bill is scheduled for a hearing on 4/20.

Prime ATC does not support this bill, in part because we believe it presents a serious threat to the Therapeutic Cannabis Program. You can read more about HB 1598 in this article. A detailed summary of the bill is available here.

If you would like to attend the hearing on HB 1598, it will take place in Room 100 of the State House beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20. Members of the public are welcome to testify if they wish. You can also sign in remotely if you’d like to indicate your position to the committee or submit your thoughts in writing.

Thanks for reading – we hope you find this information helpful!

photo of the golden dome atop the NH State House

Cannabis Legalization Update

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed two cannabis legalization bills this year, and these bills will soon be considered by the state Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on one of these bills, HB 629, this Thursday (April 7) beginning at 9 a.m. Members of the public are welcome to attend and speak at the hearing, which will take place in Room 100 of the State House in Concord.

HB 629 would simply legalize possession and limited home cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older, putting New Hampshire’s possession laws more nearly into line with neighboring states. The bill would not establish a regulated market for adult-use cannabis. Prime ATC strongly supports this bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House in a 241-113 vote. You can read a summary of the bill here.

Another bill, HB 1598, would create a state monopoly for retail adult-use cannabis administered by the liquor commission. This bill passed the House last week by a much narrower margin of 169-155, and it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate. Prime ATC does not support this bill, in part because we believe it presents a serious threat to the Therapeutic Cannabis Program. You can read more about HB 1598 in this article.

How You Can Support HB 629

Some legislators still do not understand why the home cultivation issue is so important to patients and consumers. If you would like to support the bill that legalizes cannabis possession and limited home cultivation for adults 21 and older, here are a few ways you can help:

(1) Indicate support at the public hearing, either in person or by signing in remotely in advance.

If you’re able to visit the State House in person, the hearing will take place in Room 100. There will be a sign-in sheet where you can indicate your support for the bill and (optionally) sign up to testify.

If you’re signing in remotely, here are the steps:

  1. Visit this page and select Thursday, April 7 on the calendar.
  2. For “Select the Committee,” choose “Senate Judiciary” from the drop-down box.
  3. Under “Choose the Bill,” select “9:00 am – HB 629.”
  4. For “I am,” select “a member of the public” representing “myself.”
  5. Click the bubble to indicate your position on the bill and submit the form.
  6. Enter your name, email, and town on the next page and click “continue” to complete the process.
image depicting Senate remote sign-in sheet

(2) Email and/or call your own state Senator.

You can find your state senator’s contact information here by selecting your town from the drop-down box. If you feel strongly about HB 629, reach out and tell them why!

(3) Write the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If you would like to share your comments with the five members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, visit their web page and click “Email Entire committee.”

Sample Letter to Senators

Here is a sample letter that you may use as a model in crafting your own email to your senator and the members of the Judiciary Committee. If you have any relevant personal experiences to share, please include them in the letter.

Dear Senator __________:

My name is __________ and I live in __________. I’m writing to ask that you vote in favor of HB 629, which would legalize possession and home cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older. Growing and possessing cannabis is legal in all three neighboring states, and it should be legal here as well.

Home cultivation is especially important for patients who rely on therapeutic cannabis. Taking care of your own medical needs shouldn’t be a crime.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Your Name

2022 Legislative Update

By Matt Simon, Prime ATC Director of Public and Government Relations

The New Hampshire Legislature began its 2022 session last week, and one of the first bills the House approved was a cannabis legalization bill. HB 629 would eliminate penalties for possessing and growing small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and the House passed it in an overwhelming 241-113 vote. Here is a summary of the bill.

HB 629 would not directly impact the therapeutic cannabis program if it becomes law. However, Prime ATC supports this bill, in part because we know it would be beneficial for patients who feel strongly about cultivating their own cannabis. Unfortunately, the state Senate has not been receptive to similar bills in the past, and Gov. Chris Sununu has not expressed support. The next step for HB 629 will be a public hearing in a Senate committee. The Senate has not yet announced a date for this hearing.

Photo of the NH House of Representatives meeting in the House chamber, pre-COVID.
The N.H. House of Representatives meets in Representatives’ Hall, before the advent of COVID-19.

Before HB 629 receives further consideration, several more bills have been scheduled for hearings in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. These hearings will take place on Thursday, January 20 and Friday, January 21 in Representatives’ Hall at the State House (107 N Main St, Concord). Unfortunately, there will not be an option for people to testify remotely, but all are welcome to submit written testimony and comments. If you’d like to email the committee and share your opinions on any (or all) of these bills, here is their email address: HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us

Legalization Bills Being Considered Next Week

HB 1598 – legalizing possession for adults 21 and older and establishing a state monopoly on the sale of cannabis (Abbas), public hearing January 20 @ 9:30am. This bill would establish a regulated market for cannabis administered by the state liquor commission. Licensed businesses would produce and manufacture cannabis, which could only be sold in state-run stores. Prime ATC supports legalizing cannabis for adults, but we do not support this particular approach because we do not believe it is desirable for the state to monopolize sales. Legalization will create many economic opportunities, and we believe these opportunities should be broadly shared rather than concentrated in the hands of the state.

HB 1348 – legalizing possession and home cultivation for adults 21 and older (Egan), public hearing January 20 @ noon. This bill would eliminate penalties for possessing of up to one ounce of cannabis, 5g of hashish, and six cannabis plants (two of which may be mature) for adults 21 and older. It would not establish a regulated market. Prime ATC supports this bill.

Constitutional Amendments

In addition to these legalization bills, some legislators are also trying to legalize cannabis by amending the state constitution. If one of the following “Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolutions” receives 60% support in both the House and Senate, it will appear on the ballot in November 2022. Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds majority support from voters. Prime ATC is generally supportive of these efforts, and we hope to see one of these proposals advance to the Senate.

CACR 20 – legalization (Cushing), public hearing January 20 @ 2pm.

CACR 34 – legalization (Adjutant), public hearing January 20 @ 2:30pm.

CACR 35 – legalization (Prout), public hearing January 20 @ 3pm.

In addition to these legalization proposals, the committee will consider another bill relevant to cannabis policy on Friday, January 21:

HB 1400 – prohibiting law enforcement from using the scent of cannabis as probable cause for a search (Bouldin), public hearing January 21 @ 1:45pm.

A few other cannabis bills have not yet been scheduled for public hearings, including HB 1619, a bill that would add “moderate to severe migraine headaches” as a qualifying symptom for therapeutic cannabis. A different committee will consider that bill: the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs.

Finally, the legislature did not override Gov. Sununu’s veto of SB 38, a bill that would have allowed ATCs to reorganize as for-profit businesses. Prime ATC’s position was neutral on this bill, and we are happy to continue operating on a not-for-profit basis at this time.

We hope you appreciated this update on the state legislature! We will continue to keep you informed in our next legislative update as the action continues.