The New Hampshire House voted today to pass a bill to decriminalize an individual’s first 2 marijuana possessions under .5 ounces. The bill barely passed, with a vote of 162 to 161.
The bill passed thanks in part to Republican Speaker Bill O’Brien, who abstained from voting, which allowed the bill to get a winning number of approving votes.
There was an additional bill being presented which would have legalized and regulated marijuana. This bill was overwhelmingly voted against, being defeated with a vote of 228 against the bill to only 89 in favor.
The decriminalization bill would punish first offenses of possession of up to .5 ounces with a $250 fine. Second offenses would be subject to a $500 fine. Subsequent offenses would be considered misdemeanors, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Now that the bill has been passed it will go to the Senate. Should the Senate pass the bill, Governor John Lynch has promised to veto the measure. He explained through a spokesman, “Marijuana is a controlled drug that remains illegal under federal law. New Hampshire parents are working to keep their kids away from marijuana and other drugs. We should not make the jobs of parents – or law enforcement – harder by sending a false message that some marijuana use is acceptable.”