An effort to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire has scored its first major victory as the House has passed a legalization bill. House Bill 481 got 209 votes while 147 lawmakers voted against the bill.
The bill seeks to make it legal for people aged 21 and above to grow and possess cannabis for recreational use. The possession limit has been placed at an ounce. The bill also outlaws the sale of the marijuana grown by individuals. In its place, regulated retail businesses will be allowed to operate within the state.
The bill also imposes a $30 tax on each pound of cannabis flower sold by the licensed retailers. This decision to tax marijuana by weight is a smart move because it cushions the state from any shocks to its revenue in the event that cannabis prices plummet as has been the case in some jurisdictions.
While the victory in the House should be celebrated, cannabis advocates in the state know that the battle hasn’t been won yet. The Governor, Chris Sununu, has vowed to veto any cannabis legalization law that reaches his desk. To him, marijuana legalization in any form is a bad idea that he will oppose using any means at his disposal.
New Hampshire law does provide a way out if the legislators feel differently from a governor on any issue. That legal outlet is a massive vote in the House in favor of the issue in contention.
However, the cannabis legislation bill was passed in the House without the two-thirds majority needed to insulate that bill from a veto by the Governor.
All the same, the House bill is now headed to the state senate where it will be discussed and modified or voted upon in its present form.
Just as is the case for a House bill, a two-thirds majority vote in the senate is required to override a veto by the Governor. This means that at least 16 of the 24 members of the state senate are required to cast their vote in support of the marijuana legalization bill.
The work of cannabis supporters is therefore clearly cut out for them. They need to work tooth and nail to convince enough state senators to support the bill. For now, it isn’t clear whether the senate will make changes to the bill, pass it and then send it back to the House for a vote on the new language of the bill. The second vote can give representatives a chance to improve the 59 percent support the bill garnered earlier.
All that the cannabis industry, including Canopy Rivers, Inc. (TSX.V: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) and ChineseInvestors.com (OTCQB: CIIX), can do is hope that the stalemate between the Governor of New Hampshire and the lawmakers is resolved in a way that benefits the people.
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