Last week, the New Hampshire House gave preliminary approval to legalize recreational pot. And though the measure isn’t likely to become law, with a state Senate opposed to ending marijuana prohibition, the passage by the House marks a significant step and a sign that things are changing.
The bill is reportedly modeled by those in Washington and Colorado and would allow people to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would tax and regulate pot and also allow citizens to grow a total of six plants.
The first attempt to pass the measure failed, with two lawmakers tipping the scales to the opposing side. Only an hour later, they tried again and the bill passed 170-162, according to AlterNet. The House voted 170-162 after a 2 ½-hour heated debate to send the bill to its tax committee to review before taking a final vote.
The passage “has proven the legalization of marijuana is a politically viable, mainstream issue with the potential to improve public safety and benefit the community in numerous ways,” said Richard Van Wickler, Superintendent of Corrections in Cheshire County. “This state now has an opportunity to modernize its views and recalibrate its moral compass in a way that provides an example of leadership the rest of the country will soon follow.”
Unfortunately, the bill isn’t likely to pass the state Senate – its next destination. That legislative body rejected decriminalization measures in year’s past. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it still prescribes fines for pot possession. If the Senate couldn’t come together to lessen the draconian penalties for marijuana possession, they aren’t likely to do away with penalties altogether.
In Colorado and Washington, legalization was an effort of voters. It was put on the ballots by voters and was passed by voters. Getting legislative bodies to legalize marijuana would be a momentous achievement indeed. So this move from the New Hampshire House is certainly a notable one.
The University of New Hampshire released a poll stating about 60 percent of voters there supported legalization. Those voters, like those of Colorado and Washington, may eventually need to step up and make legalization happen in their state.