The Latest: Man in jail for pot died from fentanyl overdose

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2016 2:33 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on the death of a New Hampshire man behind bars (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The medical examiner's office says a man's death in jail where he was being held on a marijuana possession charge resulted from a fentanyl overdose.

Officials are ruling Jeffrey Pendleton's death an accident. The 26-year-old died in March behind bars in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was being held on a marijuana possession charge after he was unable to pay his $100 bail.

Pendleton's death sparked protests and questions about New Hampshire's marijuana and bail laws. It's the only New England state without some form of marijuana decriminalization.

Pendleton was homeless at the time of his arrest.

Fentanyl, a drug up to 40 times more powerful than heroin, is responsible for a growing number of deaths in New Hampshire. More than 400 people in New Hampshire died from drug overdoses in 2015.

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11:45 a.m.

The recent death of a man who was behind bars on a pot possession charge has put a new face on the debate over decriminalizing marijuana in New Hampshire.

Twenty-six-year-old Jeffrey Pendleton died in a Manchester jail last month where he was being held because he couldn't pay the $100 bail on charges of marijuana possession.

The Senate will vote Thursday on a House-passed measure that would remove criminal penalties for possessing half an ounce or less of marijuana. The chamber has historically rejected such efforts, leaving New Hampshire as the only New England state without some form of marijuana decriminalization.

Advocates for the change say existing law disproportionately affects poor people and can permanently mar someone's record, making it harder for them to get a job or into college.