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Jan 19 2014

NH House Votes to Legalize Marijuana

marijuana_legal_gavel


After a lengthy debate, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted 170 to 162 in favor of House Bill 492, which seeks to legalize marijuana usage for adults 21 and over.

The bill would authorize personal possession of up to one ounce and legalize wholesale, retail, and cultivation practices. However, it would also impose taxation and regulation.

The bill would require licenses for the cultivating or selling marijuana. The requirement that only “legitimate, taxpaying business people, and not criminal actors, will conduct sales of marijuana” also suggests licensing might include criminal background checks. Further, cultivators would only be able to sell their product to retailers or wholesale companies; selling directly to consumers would be prohibited. A provision referring to marijuana testing facilities also suggests cultivated marijuana would be subject to scrutiny in order to provide uniform potency and “safety” levels.

Some interesting provisions in the bill would also allow the transfer of up to six plants between individuals aged 21 or older, as long as no more than three of the plants are mature. It would also allow the possession of up to six plants – again, only three mature – for personal usage. Restrictions would require any home grown plants to be out of public view except by use of “binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.” Marijuana would also have to be grown in a locked space that the grower himself owns or leases. If the space is leased, growing requires permission of the owner. Violations of any of these provisions may be fined up to $750.

The bill would enforce prohibition of public smoking punishable by a fine of up to $100, and introduces price fixing at $30 an ounce with a 15% tax.

If passed, the state would begin accepting applications for retail, cultivation, and wholesale facilities as early as June 1, 2014. Application fees are still up in the air, but are not to exceed $1000. It would implement a ratio of at least one marijuana retail store for every 10 liquor stores in any given municipality, adjusted for population if necessary.

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