CONCORD – Today Governor Chris Sununu signed HB 640, a critical drug policy reform, to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under HB 640, as concurred by the House in early June, an adult 18 years or older in possession of three quarters of an ounce or less of marijuana would be guilty of a non-criminal violation for their first three offenses and not subject to arrest. Their fourth offense committed within a three year period would constitute a class B misdemeanor.
“We applaud Governor Chris Sununu for signing HB 640 into law without delay,” stated Devon Chaffee, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “It is time for New Hampshire to join the rest of New England in adopting more sensible marijuana possession laws.”
According to an ACLU 2013 study, New Hampshire spent over $6.5 million in a single year enforcing marijuana possession laws. In New Hampshire, blacks are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana possession offense than whites.
Every other state in New England has had laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for many years. Last November, voters in Maine and Massachusetts passed ballot measures to legalize and regulate the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. In early May, the Vermont Legislature sent a legalization bill to Governor Phil Scott’s desk. While Governor Scott vetoed the bill, he stated that he would work with the Vermont legislature to address the bill’s flaws. A poll released by the University of New Hampshire shows that 68% of Granite Staters support New Hampshire following its neighbors and adopting marijuana legalization.