The N.H. House is again hearing arguments to make marijuana possession punishable by civil penalties, not criminal.
Tuesday at a Criminal Safety Committee hearing crowded with supporters, cosponsor Representative Joe LaChance argued New Hampshire is the only state with criminal penalties for simple possession.
“What’s the repercussion for that person who may not be able to afford college? Now he has a marijuana conviction, and according to federal law, you may not be eligible for student loans, public housing. What have we done to that person for the rest of their life?”
The bill would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil plea-by-mail $100 fine. At present, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemener that can result in up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Growing up to six marijuana plants would become a Class A misdemeanor rather of a felony.
Committee members quibbled over record keeping and graduated penalties. The House passed a similar bill last session, but the bill was not heard in the Senate.