Pubdate: Fri, 22 Mar 2013
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2013 Associated Press
Page: 3


CONCORD (AP) - The New Hampshire House passed a bill yesterday 
decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for the 
fourth time in five years.

But it's still unlikely the state will join its neighbors in Maine, 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut in decriminalizing 
marijuana, as Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she's not in favor of 
decriminalization and the Senate has shot down each of the recent 
attempts by the House to pass such a law.

Bill supporters argued it's time to end the prohibition of marijuana, 
which they said doesn't have public support and is a financial and 
regulatory burden on the state. In addition, they said legal 
substances like alcohol and tobacco have worse health and societal impacts.

The House voted 214-115 to pass the bill reducing the penalty for 
possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana to a fine of up to 
$200. The bill would also require those 18 and under to attend drug 
rehabilitation classes or face a $1,000 fine.

Though the House has passed similar legislation in the past, it is 
more evidence that the body is increasingly open to marijuana reform. 
A recent vote on a bill legalizing pot altogether did not pass, but 
garnered a surprising 112 votes.

A bill to tax and regulate marijuana was retained by a House 
committee for further study, so lawmakers could learn from the 
implementation of such systems in Washington and Colorado before taking action.

Earlier in the week, the House passed a bill legalizing medical 
marijuana for seriously ill patients, allowing them to cultivate the 
drug, and sanctioning a dispensary system in the state. Hassan and 
the Senate have voiced support for that bill, though it may see 
changes before landing on the governor's desk.
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