From the files of “The Longer Leash” comes this story out of New Hampshire. The local crown there has decided to not directly threaten the subjects with kidnapping if they possess an arbitrarily designated amount of marijuana or hashish. Instead, they will be indirectly threatened with lethal force in the form of fines, not kidnapping. From a pragmatic perspective, of course it is a good thing that the state will no longer directly threaten people with kidnapping for possession of a small amount of weed or hash, but still, the state is fining people for choosing to put something in their body that does no direct harm to anyone else.
A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession was signed into law by Gov. John Sununu on Tuesday. This represents a step towards nullifying the unconstitutional drug war in the Live Free or Die State.
Along with 11 bipartisan co-sponsors, Rep. Robert Cushing (D-Hampton) introduced House Bill 640 (HB640) to end criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession by “allowing offenders to pay fines by mail will result in less time and resources spent on such cases, allowing police and courts to spend more time and resources dealing with serious crimes.”
The New Hampshire Senate approved an amended version of HB640 on May 11 by a 17-6 margin. Previously, the New Hampshire House voted to approve HB640 on Mar. 8 by a 318-36 margin. The House concurred with the amended version of the legislation, and Gov. Sununu signed it into law on July 20.
“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.”
In the final approved version of the bill, HB640 takes possession “of 3/4 ounce or less of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish” from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction punishable by “a minimum of $350 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense.” Any New Hampshire resident possessing “more than 3/4 ounce of marijuana or more than 5 grams of hashish” would be charged with a criminal misdemeanor, rather than a felony.
“Currently, a criminal penalty accompanying a conviction for first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana can lead to a lifetime of hard consequences,” Rep. Cushing said in a Seacoast Online report. “These may include denial of student financial aid, housing, employment and professional licenses.”
Now that marijuana decriminalization has been signed into law, it will mean that fewer residents will get ensnared by the failed war on drugs.