New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has approved a progressive bill that would eliminate harsh criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a simple civil fine.
HB 1631 would make possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana a modest civil violation that would be punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense, the MPP reports. The bill must now be considered in the New Hampshire Senate.
Current state law is extremely severe, having the possession of any amount of marijuana set as a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in prison with a fine of up to $2,000.
“This is commonsense marijuana policy reform,” said Matt Simon, for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It is irrational to brand people as criminals simply for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
“New Hampshire citizens want the legislature to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy, mentioned Simon. “House members have done their part, and we hope their colleagues in the Senate will join them in supporting this measure.”
New Hampshire is the only state in New England that has simple marijuana possession penalties set as a criminal offense with the possibility for a jail sentence.