New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill on Tuesday that decriminalizes marijuana possession in the state. Now, the possession of up to three-fourths of an ounce of the drug is only punishable by a fine, not by jail time.
A person charged with their first offense of marijuana possession will face up to a $100 fine and a civil violation. Sununu also signed a bill that will create a commission that will look into legalizing marijuana for sale and recreational use in New Hampshire.
The bill's supporters cited the cost of keeping someone in prison for marijuana possession was a poor use of money that could otherwise be used to help opioid addicts in the state.
Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat, was the bill’s prime sponsor.
“There’s a lot of collateral damage that’s done by arresting people for marijuana,” Cushing said in May. “We spend $35,000 a year to keep someone in jail, prison in this state for marijuana possession at a time when we don’t have enough money for beds for opioid addicts.”
With Sununu's signature, now every state in New England has now decriminalized marijuana possession--and Maine and Massachusetts have legalized the drug altogether. (Vermont is currently in the process of legalizing the drug through the state's legislature, in what would be a national first.) Over half of the states have legalized some form of marijuana for medicinal use, and 22 states (including New Hampshire) have decriminalized marijuana possession.
Additionally, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized it outright.