The New Hampshire Senate has backed a bill to make up to ¾ an ounce of marijuana a violation rather than a crime.
This is the first time the Senate has supported proposals to loosen the state’s marijuana laws.
Thursday's vote was 17 to 6, but it didn’t come easy. Throughout the hour-long debate, there were several efforts made to kill the bill, including one attempt to lower the amount to half an ounce.
Those against the bill argued that passing it would send the wrong message to youth, stressing that pot is "a gateway drug."
But Democratic Senator Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield argued not passing it would do more damage.
“Marijuana conviction is a gateway to a record and a record is a gateway to job loss and a record is a gateway to college loan rejection.”
Under the measure the first three offenses would earn a fine, with the fourth offense being a misdemeanor.
The bill now heads back to the House, where it’s likely to pass, and then to the Governor’s office who has said he “looks forward to signing it.”
Earlier this week the Vermont legislature voted to legalize marijuana. Maine and Massachusetts voters took that step this past November.