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MARIJUANA MOMENT

New Hampshire lawmakers approve marijuana legalization bill

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

A New Hampshire House committee approved a bill last week that would legalize marijuana for adult use in the state.

While the legislation doesn’t provide for retail sales, it would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and gift up to three-fourths an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants. The model would be similar to neighboring Vermont’s non-commercial cannabis system.

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The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee advanced the bill on Jan. 28 in a 13-7 vote. A floor vote by the full House of Representatives is expected on Thursday.

“I think that the legalization of cannabis is more popular than the Legislature itself or the governor or any other political entity in the state of New Hampshire,” Chairman Renny Cushing said prior to the committee vote. “This is something that the people of the state of New Hampshire want. They don’t want to be treated like they’re criminals if they have a plant.”

The vote came a week after the panel held a hearing on the proposal, with advocates and stakeholders testifying in favor of the reform move.

“Like most Granite Staters, this committee understands that it’s time for New Hampshire to stop prohibiting cannabis,” Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Adults in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state should not be punished for their choice to use a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

“Now that New Hampshire is literally surrounded by jurisdictions where cannabis is legal for adults, our current policies can no longer be justified in any way,” he said. “It’s time for the House, Senate and Gov. Chris Sununu to work together and move cannabis policies into the 21st century.”

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Tax-and-regulate marijuana legislation has advanced in the Legislature in prior sessions, but it never arrived on the governor’s desk.

Even if it did make it that far, however, it’s unclear if Sununu, a Republican, would sign it. He’s voiced opposition to commercial legalization, and he vetoed a bill last year that would’ve allowed medical cannabis patients to cultivate their own marijuana, raising questions about whether he’d be willing to support this latest measure extending that right to all adults over 21.

In any case, the New Hampshire development comes amid a flurry of legislative activity around cannabis in the Northeast.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo included legalization in his budget last week, as did Rhode Island’s governor, who pitched a state-run cannabis model in her plan. In New Jersey, the Legislature approved a referendum to put the question of recreational legalization before voters during the November election. Top lawmakers in Connecticut are also confident that marijuana reform will advance this year. In Vermont, advocates are hopeful that lawmakers will add a legal sales component to the state’s current noncommercial cannabis law.

Read the story on Marijuana Moment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the full House vote is expected on Wednesday. The House vote is expected on Thursday.

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