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.