Another Brick in the Wall: New Hampshire House Passes Adult-Use Cannabis

McGlinchey Stafford

McGlinchey Stafford

American Bar Association’s Business Law Today February Month-In-Brief: Business & Regulated Industries - February 2024

With the passage of H.B. 1633, which would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis, New Hampshire may be on its way to becoming the twenty-fifth state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Under H.B. 1633, adults aged twenty-one and over would be able to purchase and possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower, ten grams of cannabis concentrate, or up to 2,000 milligrams of THC from one of fifteen licensed dispensaries in the state.

While the bill was passed with bipartisan support in the House, it is uncertain whether the New Hampshire Senate will go along. Last year, the House passed similar legislation, only for it to be rejected quickly by their Senate counterparts. At that time, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu released a statement outlining conditions for adult-use cannabis necessary to win his support and avoid a veto. As the governor said: “with the right policy and framework in place, I stand ready to sign a legalization bill that puts the State of [New Hampshire] in the driver’s seat, focusing on harm reduction – not profits.” One of those restrictions was to limit the number of dispensaries in the state to fifteen, which H.B. 1633 does. Other restrictions the governor had proposed included a state-run model of the adult-use program, providing cities with the authority to permit or prohibit dispensaries in their towns, and keeping adult-use cannabis tax free to “undercut the cartels who continue to drive NH’s illicit drug market.”

In addition to the governor’s stated concerns, H.B. 1633 seeks to satisfy the concerns of the New Hampshire Senate by, among other things, (i) not automatically permitting medical cannabis dispensaries (called alternative treatment centers) to sell adult-use cannabis, and (ii) penalizing the public smoking of cannabis by subjecting first-time offenders to a civil violation and forfeiture, a second-time offender to a $500 fine and forfeiture, and further violations subject to a misdemeanor and, possibly, jail time. The latter addition to the House bill is in response to the Senate’s specific concerns about the impacts of public smoking of cannabis.

H.B. 1633 now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Reprinted with permission from the American Bar Association’s Business Law Today February Month-In-Brief: Business & Regulated Industries.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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