New Hampshire’s push to legalize pot is dead


This is still not legal in New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

In January, the New Hampshire state House became the first legislative body in America to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But facing a skeptical Senate and an unsupportive governor, the House this week reversed course and voted to kill its own bill.

The measure had been modeled after similar laws in Colorado and Washington state, which voters ratified last November. It would have imposed a $60 per ounce tax on marijuana sold at the wholesale level, while legalizing the possession and transportation of up to an ounce of the drug for recreational purposes.

It passed a preliminary vote in January by a 170-162 margin. But the bill failed to win support in the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill won bipartisan support, and generated bipartisan opposition: A Manchester Republican introduced the House bill, but the GOP-controlled state Senate signaled it would quash the measure. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) had said she would issue a veto if the bill reached her desk.

On Wednesday, the House bowed to political reality and killed the bill by a 192-140 vote.

Marijuana legalization advocates will have to look elsewhere for victories this year. Legalization supporters say they have collected enough signatures to get a measure similar to Colorado and Washington’s on the ballot in Alaska this fall.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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