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Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances Again in New Hampshire

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It took reworking the proposed recreational marijuana tax for the House Ways and Means Committee to advance legislation further. The restructured tax plan would tax cultivation at 5% and retail marijuana at 9%.

Adults age 21 and older could possess up to an ounce if this version becomes law, NHPR reports. The original legislation would have taxed marijuana at a rate of $30 per ounce. It’s not been estimated how much revenue the new structure could bring to the state.

It’s estimated that new projections, under the revised structure, could generate more than the initial estimate of about $20 – $31 million.

The possession limit also adds 5 grams of hashish.

One lawmaker, Representative Patrick Abrami, seems a little off-the-pace when commenting that he thinks state and local government entities will “become addicted to the funding provided by the cannabis industry”.

He said, “Just because states around us are legalizing doesn’t mean we have to do it.”

Abrami forgets that the structure of the legislation came from the study he led regarding the impact of legalization.

Kate Frey of New Futures said, “The proponents of this bill have said all along that a significant amount of revenue would go toward substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery and be transferred immediately. What this committee did was actually say: No, it’s going to go through the budget process. And as we know with the alcohol fund, that’s never been successful. We’ve had an alcohol fund, of which 5 percent of gross profits are supposed to go to prevention, treatment and recovery. That’s only happened once in the 13 years, so I don’t expect this to be any different.”

Allocations in the legislation include:

  • $2-million for administration of the new law
  • $100,000 annually to monitor legalization and collect data regarding public health
  • 29% for substance abuse/public education programs
  • 33% to help local communities
  • 5% to public safety organizations to hire drug recognition experts
  • 33% to the New Hampshire general fund

Matt Simon of MPP isn’t entirely on-board with the new tax structure. He said, “Five percent tax rate on cultivators and a 9 percent tax at the retail level, and that’s somewhat lower than other states. Legislators are keenly interested in eliminating the illicit market and that’s been driving this discussion.”

The full House will discuss the bill this month.