New Hampshire Lawmakers Renew Efforts to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis Amid Governor's Conditions

New Hampshire Lawmakers Renew Efforts to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis Amid Governor’s Conditions

In a recent report by WMUR, it has been revealed that lawmakers in New Hampshire are once again seeking to legalize adult-use cannabis during this legislative session. This renewed effort comes with a strategic focus on meeting the conditions outlined by Republican Governor Chris Sununu to prevent a potential veto.

Last year, Governor Sununu articulated his vision for a legal cannabis market in New Hampshire, which included provisions such as a 15-store cap and restrictions on lobbying and political contributions by cannabis licensees. Despite years of staunch opposition to cannabis reforms, Governor Sununu acknowledged in a May 2023 interview on WMUR’s CloseUp that adult-use legalization in the state “is probably inevitable in some way or form.” However, he emphasized the importance of prioritizing harm reduction over profits in the state’s cannabis program.

Governor Sununu expressed support for a state-run sales model, akin to the state’s liquor stores, to prevent the proliferation of what he termed “Marijuana Miles” – clusters of cannabis dispensaries seen in other states. However, this proposal has faced criticism from some quarters, including Daryl Eames of the New Hampshire Cannabis Association. Eames raised concerns that a state-run model could invite federal intervention, potentially subjecting the state to oversight by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and federal franchise regulations.

The New Hampshire House previously passed broad adult-use cannabis reforms three times, only to have the Senate reject the proposals each time. Following the Senate’s rejection, lawmakers attempted to craft legislation aligning with Governor Sununu’s model. However, disagreements arose within the House Commerce Committee on how to implement a state-controlled system, particularly regarding the treatment of medical cannabis operators. Ultimately, the effort to pursue a state-controlled model was abandoned.

As the debate over cannabis legalization continues in New Hampshire, stakeholders are closely monitoring developments and engaging in discussions to address concerns and explore potential pathways forward. Stay tuned for further updates on this evolving issue.

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