Even though the red state of New Hampshire has a Republican supermajority, lawmakers still voted to legalize marijuana this week.
By a margin of 207 to 139, the New Hampshire house voted to send a bill that would legalize marijuana statewide to the state senate, which also has a Republican majority. The bill as it stands would allow for anyone aged 21 and up to possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana and grow up to three mature cannabis plants at home. Recreational sales, however, would not be allowed in the current bill. While Republican New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has not yet announced his position on the bill, he did sign a decriminalization measure into law last year.
The timing of the vote to legalize marijuana in the Granite State comes just five days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice would go after states that have legal marijuana, like Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, DC. Legal marijuana is extraordinarily popular with the American public — an astonishing 64 percent of Americans support legalizing weed, according to an October 2017 Gallup survey. That includes 51 percent of Republicans.
Two of New Hampshire’s neighbors — Maine and Massachusetts — legalized marijuana for recreational use via ballot referendum in November of 2016. And Vermont’s House of Representatives just passed a similar legalization measure last Thursday, with the state senate expected to send it to Republican Governor Phil Scott later this week. Gov. Scott has pledged to sign a legalization bill if a majority of lawmakers send it to his desk.
Approximately a dozen more states are reportedly considering either full marijuana legalization or new medical marijuana laws in 2018 — this includes red state governments like Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah. As of this writing, Sessions has not yet filed any official challenges to state marijuana laws in federal court.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.