The 214-115 vote marks the 4th time in 5 years that the House has backed marijuana decriminalization. Under the bill, penalty for possessing a quarter ounce or less of marijuana would by a fine of up to $200. If violators were 18 or under they would have to attend drug rehabilitation classes or be fined $1,000. Prior to the vote, Manchester Democrat Joel Winters told colleagues the policy strikes the right balance.
"Marijuana possession will still be against the law, but possession of small amount will be a violation instead of a class a misdemeanor, and not a criminal offense, and a criminal offense can cause much more harm than a small amount of marijuana."
Critics of the bill say decriminalizing any amount of marijuana sends the wrong message. The House’s support for decriminalization comes on the heels of its passing a bill to legalize medical marijuana. Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she’d sign a bill that creates a tightly controlled medical marijuana program, but does not support decriminalization.