New Hampshire Legalization Efforts Advance Amid Legislative Hurdles

The TDR Three Takeaways for New Hampshire Cannabis Legalization:

  1. New Hampshire Cannabis Legalization bill passes the House, moves to the Senate for critical approval.
  2. Governor expresses conditional support for New Hampshire Cannabis Legalization, demanding specific provisions.
  3. New Hampshire Cannabis Legalization could economically benefit the state by aligning with neighboring states’ laws.

The ongoing debate surrounding the legalization of adult-use cannabis in New Hampshire continues to dominate headlines as another bill, recently passed by the House, makes its way to the Senate. This bill, House Bill 1633, sponsored by Rep. Erica Layon, seeks to permit adults over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana from up to 15 licensed stores across the state, all regulated by the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. Notably, New Hampshire remains the sole New England state yet to legalize recreational cannabis, a point of contention and hope among advocates and industry watchers.

New Hampshire borders Massachusetts, and Interstate 95 connects Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, to Massachusetts in less than a 30-minute drive. Residents easily access legalized recreational cannabis, resulting in lost tax revenue and job opportunities for New Hampshire, not limiting access for its residents. This situation resembles what we discussed previously regarding Pennsylvania and Austria along Germany’s eastern border.

The House approved the bill with a decisive 239-136 vote, marking a significant step forward in the legislative process. However, the bill’s journey is far from over, as it now heads to the New Hampshire Senate—a body that has historically resisted similar legislation. The Senate’s stance is crucial, as its approval is necessary for the bill’s enactment, a hurdle that previous efforts have failed to clear in both last year and 2022. This historical resistance underscores the challenges proponents face despite the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, which holds sway over the governorship and both legislative chambers.

Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, has expressed conditional support for cannabis legalization, stipulating specific provisions such as a franchise model for retail storefronts and restrictions on lobbying by cannabis licensees. These requirements highlight the complex interplay between legislative proposals and executive expectations, which must align to advance the legalization agenda. Rep. Dan McGuire’s advocacy for amendments to align with these executive conditions further illustrates the legislative intricacies involved in garnering support across branches of government.

Despite these challenges, there is a cautious optimism that this year could mark a turning point. Key GOP senators and the outgoing governor have shown a newfound openness to the idea, possibly swayed by the economic and social arguments favoring legalization. This evolving stance is crucial as it reflects a broader shift that could influence the Senate’s reception of the bill.

The potential expansion of the cannabis market to include recreational use is anticipated to stimulate business growth, increase tax revenues, and reduce illegal sales, aligning with similar outcomes in neighboring states where cannabis is already legal. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research and news, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter.

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