New Hampshire is halfway to legal adult use cannabis, following the approval of House Bill 639 on April 6 by a wide margin of 272-109. While the Granite State decriminalized the possession of cannabis in 2017, it is still a fineable offense, and in any case only applies where the amount of cannabis does not exceed 3/4 oz. The stakes are therefore high as attention turns to whether the state Senate votes in favor of the proposed legislation.
Under HB 639, possession of and other activities related to cannabis will be legal in New Hampshire, provided that the amount in question does not exceed a possession limit established by the new law. This limit consists of (a) four ounces of cannabis in plant form, (b) 20 grams of concentrated cannabis products, including hashish and vape cartridges, or (c) 2000 mg of THC in products other than concentrated cannabis products. Possession of an amount of cannabis that exceeds the statutory limit will still constitute a misdemeanor.
Consistent with this new framework for adult use cannabis, the bill amends the definition of drug paraphernalia in New Hampshire, to exclude products used to smoke, or otherwise consume, cannabis. In addition, HB 639 explicitly authorizes licensed tobacconists to sell cannabis accessories and paraphernalia.
Medical cannabis, or therapeutic cannabis as it is known in the state, has been legal in New Hampshire since 2013. Dispensaries, or alternative treatment centers (ATCs) as they are known locally, will be allowed to apply for a dual use certificate that allows them to also sell adult use cannabis, under regulations that HB 639 mandates be drafted. The bill goes into some detail regarding the operation of ATCs holding dual use certificates. For example, the legislation calls for therapeutic and adult use sales to be separated, for example by having separate counters. ATCs must also prioritize therapeutic sales.
Back in January, we noted that legalization initiatives were steadily advancing in the Northeast. If HB 639 ultimately becomes law, all of New England will have legal adult use cannabis and New Hampshire will truly live up to its famous slogan, Live Free or Die. For now, with possession of an ounce of cannabis a criminal offense in the state, the words ring hollow.