New Hampshire Lawmakers File Psilocybin And Broader Drug Decriminalization Bills For 2022
As New Hampshire lawmakers gear up to consider several marijuana legalization bills in the upcoming legislative session, other legislators are turning their attention to psychedelics and broader drug policy reforms.
Bills to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and more widely reduce penalties for non-violent drug offenses have been pre-filed for the 2022 session.
Under the psychedelic fungus proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tony Labranche (D) with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, adults who possess up to 12 grams of so-called magic mushrooms would be subject to a $100 fine, without the threat of jail time, for a first and second offense.
“No person shall be subject to arrest for a violation of this section and shall be released provided the law enforcement officer does not have lawful grounds for arrest for a different offense,” the bill reads.
There would be a $300 fine for subsequent offenses, but they could be waived if a person completes a substance misuse assessment.
Labranche previewed the reform proposal earlier this year, telling Marijuana Moment that he feels substance use is a public health matter that “should not be a criminal justice issue.”
Separately, Rep. Max Abramson (R) has pre-filed a broader measure that would repeal several state statutes relating to penalties for non-violent drug offenses.
People found to be in possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD or PCP would face a fine of $40 per gram. Offenses “involving any other controlled drug” would be subject to a $20 fine per gram.
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While it remains to be seen whether either of the reform proposals will advance through the New Hampshire legislature, their introduction is another example of how attitudes toward drug criminalization are shifting and lawmakers are more willing to embrace formerly controversial reform policies.
Both bills will be referred to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee when the legislature reconvenes in the new year.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last year that a man convicted of possession of psilocybin mushrooms was wrongfully tried because his use of the psychedelic was part of his religious practices.
When it comes to cannabis, six measures to legalize the plant for adult use have been pre-filed for 2022 in the Granite State.
Three of those that are being championed by Democratic legislators seek to put the question of reform directly before voters on next year’s ballot. A key Republican committee chairman and other leaders separately pre-filed a legalization bill.
Recent polling indicates that residents are ready for the reform, with three in four New Hampshirites favoring legalization.
Separately, standalone legalization legislation that’s been retained from this year is set to be taken up when lawmakers reconvene early in 2022, and advocates are hopeful that it will advance based on prior votes in the House. The chamber passed a legalization bill last year, but it died in a Senate committee.
While Gov. Chris Sununu (R) remains opposed to adult-use legalization, advocates are encouraged that he signed a bill last month adding opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical cannabis program and also allows out-of-state patients to access dispensaries.
In 2017, Sununu signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in the Granite State, though he continues to oppose adding a legal commercial cannabis sales component.
Separately, a New Hampshire Senate committee in March heard testimony on a House-passed bill to allow medical marijuana patients to grow a limited number of plants for personal use. But it was ultimately tabled in the full chamber.
Meanwhile, other nearby northeast states such as Maine and Vermont have already legalized recreational cannabis.
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