The New Hampshire House voted 214 to 137 to decriminalize marijuana today, after recommendations from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. However, the victory will be short lived (see link). Governor John Lynch has already said he will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. The bill would have made possession of less than Â¼ oz of marijuana a civil citation ($200) for people over 18. Currently the offense is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. This isn’t the first time that the House passed this type of legislation. In 2008 the bill passed the house, only to die in the Senate after threats by the Governor’s Office that it would be vetoed.
When asked why Governor Lynch would veto the bill, he said, “Marijuana is a controlled drug that remains illegal under federal law. I share the law enforcement community’s concerns about proliferation of this drug. In addition, New Hampshire parents are struggling to keep their kids away from marijuana and other drugs. We should not make the jobs of parents, or law enforcement, harder by sending a false message that some marijuana use is acceptable.”
Rep. Joel Winters, D-Manchester, felt the bill was needed in order to keep prosecutors from pursuing small possessions. He said, “Prosecutors aren’t going to be able to threaten jail time for small amounts of marijuana.” Rep. Winters also pointed out that there is a provision in the bill that would require parental notification if a minor was in violation. Gov. Lynch vetoed medical marijuana legislation seven months ago, citing concerns over distribution and cultivation and the potential for abuse. Medical marijuana supporters said they would reintroduce the medical marijuana bill in 2011. I hope when Mr. Lynch is up for re-election, the voters of New Hampshire stick it to him. What a dick!