As New Hampshire lawmakers gear up for the 2024 legislative session, a dozen marijuana-related bills have been pre-filed, unveiling a diverse range of proposals that could significantly alter the state’s approach to cannabis. The measures include initiatives to legalize adult use, expunge past convictions, broaden the eligibility criteria for the medical program, and introduce increased possession limits and home cultivation options for patients and caregivers.
Ten of the twelve bills were pre-filed in the past week, with the remaining two introduced earlier this month, focusing on home cultivation for patients and recognizing eating disorders as qualifying conditions.
The comprehensive legislation encompasses various proposals from what one lawmaker described as a “mini therapeutic cannabis caucus.” Representative Wendy Thomas, a medical marijuana patient advocating for chronic pain and cancer treatment, highlighted the collaborative efforts within the group. The caucus includes Democratic representatives Suzanne Vail and Heath Howard, where members brainstorm ideas, support each other’s bills, and testify for one another.
Thomas, the lead sponsor of two pre-filed bills, champions a measure allowing patients and caregivers to cultivate marijuana at home and possess up to eight ounces. Another bill she sponsors would permit healthcare providers to recommend marijuana for any debilitating or terminal condition they deem beneficial to the patient.
Howard’s bills propose doubling possession and purchase limits for patients and caregivers, adding generalized anxiety to the list of qualifying conditions. Meanwhile, Vail’s legislation aims to shield medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination based solely on positive drug tests and reduce penalties for unlicensed sales.
While the pre-filed bills include two separate legalization measures—one for regulated commercial sales and another for cultivation, possession, and gifting among adults—they notably deviate from a detailed proposal discussed by a 19-member commission on legalizing marijuana through state-run stores.
Despite the commission’s failure to reach a consensus, the flurry of pre-filed bills suggests lawmakers’ eagerness to address marijuana-related reforms in the upcoming legislative session, commencing in January.
Here are some of the notable pre-filed bills:
- HB 82: Sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Vail (D), this bill aims to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination based solely on positive drug tests.
- HB 344: A Republican-led legalization measure allowing possession and home cultivation for adults, sponsored by Rep. Carol McGuire (R).
- HB 544: A Democratic-led legalization bill proposing the regulation of adult-use cannabis sales, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Eaton (D).
- HB 1231: Sponsored by Rep. Wendy Thomas (D), this bill provides qualified immunity to registered therapeutic marijuana patients and caregivers for home cultivation.
- HB 1240: A proposal from Rep. Heath Howard (D) adding eating disorders to the list of qualifying conditions for therapeutic cannabis.
- HB 1278: Another initiative from Rep. Wendy Thomas (D) expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
As New Hampshire anticipates a transformative legislative session, these bills set the stage for significant discussions and potential reforms in the state’s approach to marijuana.