marijuana

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The commission studying marijuana legalization in New Hampshire got a crash course Monday in "Juuling"—the  e-cigarette vaping that's become a craze among high school students.

Jill Burke, interim prevention administrator for the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, says some young people are using various vaping devices with oils derived from cannabis.

“It is the size of a USB stick and they’re using these products in schools and colleges, and they’re using these products with THC oils and derivatives,” she said.

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The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill that would allow two more medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the state.

 

Lawmakers legalized medical use of marijuana for the treatment of a limited number of conditions in 2013. It can be purchased at licensed alternative treatment centers in Lebanon, Dover, Merrimack and Plymouth.

 

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New Hampshire lawmakers have referred a bill legalizing recreational use of marijuana to further study, dealing a blow to those who hoped the Granite State would join neighboring states in relaxing regulations on the drug.

The House gave preliminary approval to the bill earlier this year. It would allow adults to possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana and cultivate it in limited qualities.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Six months ago, the State Police Forensic Laboratory had a backlog of about 3,600 cases. It’s now down to 1,600, and analysts are steadily chipping away at the number of controlled drug cases.

There are a few reasons for the progress, Director Timothy Pifer says. They’ve hired two extra chemists, for one.

Another factor: Marijuana decriminalization.

New Hampshire’s state law eliminating jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana took effect in September of 2017.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A House committee voted Monday to recommend that a bill to legalize marijuana be sent to interim study.

It's the second time the legislation has come out of a committee with a negative recommendation–advocates view the “interim study” recommendation as "an egregious attempt" to kill the bill. In January, the full House overturned a committee recommendation to pass the bill.

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Lawmakers took more testimony Tuesday for and against a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Those who support legalizing marijuana say the time has come. Opponents argued the bill is an effort by advocates to get a toehold for the marijuana industry in New Hampshire.

 

Dr. William Goodman, Medical Director at Catholic Medical Center, opposed the bill on behalf of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

 

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  When it comes to marijuana policy, New Hampshire legislators continue to comb through a slew of what-if scenarios.

The review, and debate, comes on a couple of fronts:

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A bill to allow for annulment of criminal convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire has received a favorable recommendation from a House committee.

The legislation was drafted after Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, signed into law a measure to decriminalize possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of pot. The law took effect Sept. 16, 2017. 

Vermont Governor Signs Recreational Marijuana Law

Jan 22, 2018

Vermont becomes the first state to legislatively enact a law permitting recreational marijuana, which bolsters advocates behind similar legislation in New Hampshire.

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said he signed the bill into law with "mixed emotions" during a private signing, the Associated Press reports. It takes effect July 1. It allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and have two mature and four immature plants.

Vermont is poised to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana beginning this summer. Police along New Hampshire’s western border, though, say they’re not concerned about the policy change.

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The Weekly N.H. News Roundup on The Exchange hit the road this week and recorded before a live audience at The Barley House in Concord. The show airs at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m Friday.

Click here to see photos from the event

Host Peter Biello also fielded questions from the audience, including two about marijuana legislation.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Tuesday morning in favor of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

N.H. Banking Examiner Todd Wells says financial institutions may be even less likely to work with marijuana businesses after the federal government signaled a tougher stand on legalization.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions canceled an Obama-era memo last week that federal authorities would not pursue states that legalize pot for recreational or medical purposes.

The move comes as a New Hampshire commission is studying marijuana legalization. Wells referenced the AG's action during a commission meeting today.

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A handful of lawmakers are proposing changes to some of the state’s policies on marijuana in 2018.

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NHPR News covered hundreds of stories in 2017. They ranged from the sublime (see Todd Bookman's story about an amateur synchronized swimming team in Hancock), to the tragic - such as Jack Rodolico's Heroin Diaries, in which a wife of an overdose victim discovers his videos chronicling his struggle.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

 

A commission studying marijuana legalization will be seeking data on youth pot use to establish a New Hampshire baseline.

The move comes after the panel heard testimony Monday from Andrew Freedman, the former director of marijuana coordination for Colorado, which has legalized marijuana.

"The problem is that baseline data doesn't exist in a lot of the metrics that we're looking at. He gave us some good ideas," Rep. Patrick Abrami, chairman of the commission, said after the hour-long presentation.

When it comes to marijuana legalization, the conflict between state and federal laws appears to be cause for concern for New Hampshire banks.

Todd Wells, Chief Bank Examiner for the New Hampshire Banking Department, says it's a matter of "reputation risk" for state-chartered banks and credit unions hesitant to establish direct relationships with marijuana-related businesses.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A House committee this week recommended against  a bill to legalize pot in the state - but advocates on both sides are continuing the debate.

Speaking today on NHPR's The Exchange, Kate Frey, vice president of advocacy for New Futures, compares the marijuana industry to the big tobacco and big alcohol industries. 

“It’s a profit-driven industry,” Frey says. “And once ‘Big Marijuana’ moves in, just like ‘Big Alcohol,’ then you have pot shops in your neighborhood, you have highly potent edible products targeted toward kids."  

A commission studying marijuana legalization is tasked with identifying “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

That’s how Rep. Patrick Abrami sums it up. He’s the commission's chairman.

Abrami's outline of guidelines at the first meeting of the commission this week points to the workload ahead. And it hints at the disparate voices in this debate.

Abrami issued the good-bad-ugly bit to emphasize that the commission serve as a fact-finding body and that commissioners “leave our biases at home and objectively address this issue.”

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A commission studying the potential impact of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use in New Hampshire is starting its work.

The Legislature created the commission earlier this year, and it will hold its first meeting on Tuesday. Members include lawmakers, representatives from several state agencies and industries, including banking, law enforcement and the medical community.

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People suffering from chronic pain can now get medical marijuana in New Hampshire, thanks to a law extending the treatment to cover new conditions that takes effect this week. Later in the month, people with post-traumatic stress disorder will also qualify.

Chronic pain is the most common reason why people seek out medical marijuana, according to a National Academies of Sciences report earlier this year. Add PTSD, and New Hampshire's medical marijuana market is looking at some major changes.

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Governor Chris Sununu has signed a bill that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana.

Under the new law set to take effect in 60 days, those in possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce would face a civil violation and be subject to a fine of up to $100 for a first offense.

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Lawmakers in Vermont yesterday stopped short on a bill that would have legalized possession and sale of Marijuana. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a bill to decriminalize pot possession is headed to Governor Sununu, who says he’ll sign it.

And in Massachusetts, where recreational use of marijuana was approved by voters in November, lawmakers are pushing to raise taxes on marijuana and tighten regulations, for instance by requiring background checks for workers in the industry.

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A bill decriminalizing three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana in New Hampshire is headed to Governor Chris Sununu, who says he’ll sign it. 

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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.

  A bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana could clear a major hurdle when it goes before the state Senate this week.

The Senate has historically opposed decriminalization, but after getting the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, this latest proposal appears likely to pass when it comes up for a vote Thursday.

New Hampshire is the only New England state where the possession of small amounts of the drug remains a criminal offense.

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The New Hampshire Senate, which has historically rejected proposals to decriminalize marijuana, took a step toward breaking that streak Tuesday.

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  With Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on board, advocates for marijuana decriminalization hope this is the year New Hampshire joins its New England neighbors in removing criminal penalties for possessing pot.

But the measure is facing challenges in the Senate, where lawmakers aligned with police chiefs are working to water it down. Lawmakers, police and advocates agree some form of decriminalization will likely reach Sununu's desk. Up for debate, though, is what amount of weed will be decriminalized and how much discretion cops should have to make arrests.

Several proposals to loosen New Hampshire’s regulations on the use of marijuana got hearings at the Statehouse Tuesday. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House worked its way Wednesday through dozens of bills.

Among the measures approved are proposed changes to the state’s drug laws and public school funding.

NHPR’s Paige Sutherland has been covering Wednesday’s session and joins All Things Considered Host Peter Biello from the Statehouse in Concord.

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