New Hampshire state representatives voted 279-67 in favor of decriminalizing marijuana in the state. Woohoo! Except that doesn’t quite make it official. The law is expected to get some resistance from the governor and senate. If the bill goes through, then possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana would be punishable with a ticket not unlike a traffic violation. A first time offense would likely earn someone only $100 in fines.
A bill like this doesn’t just reduce the penalty for the crime. It can also effectively put an end to police being interested in busting someone for possession, according to a former resident of Madison, Wisconsin where a similar law was passed years ago.
However, it also creates a really problematic schematic of marijuana business. Create a legal or at least tolerated market for marijuana while maintaining strict laws against possession, sale, and transportation in large quantities is what we might call hypocritical. It puts people in prison for behavior that is implicitly deemed acceptable by local government.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed plenty of decriminalization bills over the past few years, but all of them have failed to make it past the Senate. The fact that 60% of the state’s population are in favor of the measure makes some officials think that lawmakers may be able to override gubernatorial veto.
Adam Scroadter, a sponsor of the decriminalisation bill, spoke about the bill shortly before the vote. “New Hampshire is a grassroots state,” he said. “People here are very politically aware. I think people just see (decriminalization) as common sense.”