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The N.H. House just became the first state body to OK pot sales, group says


(Rick Wilking/Reuters)

New Hampshire’s House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legalizing marijuana for recreational use, making it the first state legislative chamber ever to do so, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group.

The bill regulates marijuana in much the same way it will be regulated in Colorado and Washington, where voters, not legislators, approved legalization. The beginning of legal sales of pot in Colorado on Jan. 1 made national—and potentially world—history, experts say.

“House members made history today, and they are clearly on the right side of it,” Matt Simon, the New Hampshire-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement. The group lobbied for the New Hampshire bill and was a key force in legalizing the drug in Colorado.

The New Hampshire bill now heads back to the House Ways and Means Committee before returning to the Democrat-led House for a second vote, the MPP said in a statement. The GOP-led Senate has already rejected a bill that would only have decriminalized pot and Gov. Maggie Hassan has promised to veto legalization. New Hampshire’s legislature is the largest and among the most polarized in the nation.

Still, the vote is noteworthy, in light of the historic beginning of legal sales in Colorado. Advocates say they’ve collected more than enough signatures to qualify a legalization measure for the August ballot in Alaska and they have their eyes on several other states as well. In the near term, they hope to get legalization on the Oregon ballot this year as well.

The New Hampshire bill would impose a $30 wholesale tax on every ounce of marijuana sold. The going rate for a medium-quality ounce of marijuana in New Hampshire is about $290, according to priceofweed.com, which collects user submissions of local prices. That estimate is based on 451 submissions.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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