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New Hampshire Lawmakers Have Pre-Filed A Dozen Marijuana Bills For The 2024 Session So Far



New Hampshire lawmakers have now pre-filed a dozen marijuana-related bills for the 2024 legislative session, including measures to legalize the cannabis for adults, annul prior convictions, expand the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical program as well as increase possession limits and allow home cultivation for patients and caregivers.

Ten of the 12 bills were pre-filed in the past week, following two others—regarding home grow for patients and eating disorders as qualifying conditions, respectively—earlier this month.

The pre-filed legislation includes some proposals from members of what one lawmaker described to Marijuana Moment earlier this month as “sort of a mini therapeutic cannabis caucus.”

The group, said Rep. Wendy Thomas (D), a medical marijuana patient herself for chronic pain and as part of cancer treatment, includes fellow Democrats Reps. Suzanne Vail and Heath Howard. “We’ve sort of brainstormed ideas for bills, we’re supporting each other’s bills, we’re going to testify for each other,” she said in an interview.

Thomas is the lead sponsor of two pre-filed bills, one that would allow patients and caregivers to grow marijuana at home and keep up to eight ounces of cannabis and another that would allow health care providers to recommend marijuana for any debilitating or terminal condition for which they believe it would benefit the patient.

Howard’s pre-filed bills, meanwhile, would double current possession and purchase limits for patients and caregivers as well as add generalized anxiety to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. Legislation led by Vail would protect medical marijuana patients from being fired based merely on a positive drug test for cannabis metabolites and reduce some criminal penalties for unlicensed sales from patients or caregivers to unauthorized adults.

While the legislation pre-filed includes two separate legalization measures—one that would allow regulated commercial sales and another that would allow only cultivation, possession and gifting among adults—it does not include a bill along the lines of what was discussed in detail in recent months by a 19-member commission put together to recommend how to legalize marijuana through a system of state-run stores.

Members eventually revised that proposal in a way that would have created a franchise-style system of private retailers overseen by the state, but the commission ultimately failed to reach consensus after a string of meandering meetings and a last-minute list of demands from Gov. Chris Sununu (R).

While the group voted against advising the legislation it workshopped, the flurry of pre-filed bills suggest lawmakers are nevertheless eager to take up marijuana related reforms in the new year.

Ahead of a legislative session that kicks off in January, these are the bills lawmakers have unveiled so far:

  • HB 82 — This proposal, from Rep. Suzanne Vail (D) and three others, would prohibit an employer from refusing to hire or terminating the employment of a qualified patient of the state’s medical marijuana program “solely on the basis of a positive drug test.”
  • HB 344 — This Republican-led marijuana legalization measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to three quarters of an ounce of cannabis, 5 grams of hashish and certain infused other products, as well as grow up to six plants for personal use. It would also allow adults to gift marijuana to other adults, but commercial sales would remain illegal. Smoking or vaping in public would be punishable by a $100 fine. It’s sponsored by Rep. Carol McGuire (R) and eight other lawmakers, including two Democrats.
  • HB 544 — Another legalization measure, this Democratic-led bill would legalize and regulate the sale, possession and use of marijuana by adults 21 and older. The state Liquor Commission would regulate the commercial industry, and existing medical marijuana dispensaries, known in the state as alternative treatment centers (ATCs), would be able to register as separate entities to engage in adult-use activity. Municipalities could limit the time, place and manner of operation of cannabis establishments, and the state Department of Health and Human Services would receive money “to create public media and social media campaigns to address some of the risks of cannabis use.” It’s sponsored by Rep. Daniel Eaton (D) and three others.
  • HB 1231 — This bill, from Rep. Wendy Thomas (D) and four others, would provide qualified immunity to registered therapeutic marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow up to three mature cannabis plants, three immature plants and 12 seedlings. They could also keep up to eight ounces of usable marijuana.
  • HB 1240 — This proposal, sponsored by Rep. Heath Howard (D) and six other Democrats, would add a number of eating disorders to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for therapeutic cannabis.
  • HB 1278 — Another measure from Thomas, this bill would add to the state’s qualifying conditions for medical marijuana “any debilitating or terminal medical condition or symptom for which the potential benefits of using therapeutic cannabis would, in the provider’s clinical opinion, likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient.” It has five other co-sponsors.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

  • HB 1295 — A Democratic-led bill from Vail and six others, this measure would amend criminal penalties regarding the sale of medical marijuana, repealing a specific criminal offense for patients or caregivers who sell marijuana to another person who is not a patient or caregiver. The impact of the proposal would vary by amount sold, but it would effectively downgrade current penalties for amounts under one ounce.
  • HB 1349 — Another bill from Howard, this proposal would add generalized anxiety disorder to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for therapeutic cannabis. It has five other co-sponsors, including one Republican.
  • HB 1350 — Yet another Howard-sponsored bill, this one would double the limit of medical cannabis that could be possessed by registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers, from the current 2 ounces up to 4 ounces. Purchasing limits would also increase, doubling from 2 ounces per 10 days to a maximum 4 ounces per 10 days. The proposal has four other Democratic co-sponsors.
  • HB 1539 — This bill, from Rep. Jonah Wheeler (D) and three others, would annul all convictions and arrests for cannabis misdemeanors or violation-level offenses within six months of taking effect. Further, it would state that for activity occurring prior to July 1, 2024, no prosecutor could base crimes on a person 21 or older “purposely obtaining, purchasing, transporting, or possessing” under 2 ounces of marijuana and 5 grams of hash—or whatever is legal to possess at a future date, whichever is greater. People who have not completed their sentences could also petition a court for resentencing.
  • SB 180 — A bill from Sen. Kevin Avard (R) and two other Republicans, this measure would prohibit the sale of hemp-derived products that contain more than 0.03 percent THC—a limit 10 times more stringent than federal THC limits. The measure would also apply to delta-8 THC and other variants of the cannabinoid. Additionally, the state’s therapeutic cannabis oversight board could regulate and review medical marijuana product labels and educational materials.
  • SB 357 — This bipartisan bill—led by Sen. Rebecca Whitley (D) and sponsored by 11 other lawmakers, including two Republican senators and two Democratic members of the House—expands who can certify medical marijuana patients and “prescribe” cannabis under the state’s therapeutic cannabis program to “any New Hampshire resident who is licensed to prescribe drugs to humans and who possesses an active registration from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] to prescribe controlled substances.” The bill also requires that two providers, including one pediatric care provider, submit written certification for issuance of a medical marijuana card to a minor.

Thomas told Marijuana Moment that regardless of what happens in the year ahead when it comes to adult-use legalization, she and others are focused on continuing the “small but consistently positive progress in the therapeutic program,” which she believes even opponents of broader reform can see the value in.

Since taking office, Thomas said, she’s introduced bills to add qualifying conditions and increase the number of dispensaries, or ATCs, in the state to improve ease of access by patients and caregivers. She’s now aware of three in New Hampshire’s 400-member House of Representatives who are medical cannabis patients, and she says they plan to be vocal about it.

“I advocate so passionately for this because it’s really helping people,” she said, noting that cannabis helped her stop using opioids completely—an outcome she’s seen in others. She’s also, while working with an ATC in the state, helped a veteran whose PTSD was so severe “that he couldn’t even go into Walmart,” Thomas said.

“He came back the next week and said, ‘My life has been changed,'” the lawmaker said.

Personally, Thomas supports a legalization model for adults that supports small, craft businesses—akin to what she sees in Maine’s cannabis law. But if New Hampshire does allow marijuana for broader adult use, she added, “I still want the therapeutic program to stay in place.”

Meanwhile Sen. Rebecca Whitley (D), the lead sponsor of the bill to allow DEA-registered pharmaceutical prescribers to “prescribe” marijuana to patients—and the elected official on the state legalization commission who appeared most supportive of legalization—said in a local TV interview earlier this month that 74 percent of New Hampshire residents want to see marijuana made legal, “and so I think we have an imperative from our constituents to work towards that.”

It’s not immediately clear whether the DEA-related proposal might run into similar pushback from the federal agency encountered late last month by DEA-registered pharmacists in Georgia, who were warned that dispensing marijuana as authorized by the state Board of Pharmacy could jeopardize their DEA registrations.

While the New Hampshire legalization commission was already at loggerheads going into its final meeting, a list of last-minute demands by Sununu was a dealbreaker for some of the committee. The governor said he would support no more than 15 licensed marijuana retailers statewide and wanted to include provisions specifying that cannabis businesses be barred from lobbying or making political contributions.

“People want cannabis across the United States, so he’s playing a very difficult game here,” Thomas said of the governor.

Sununu, for his part, has said that legalization is “inevitable” in New Hampshire, although he’s “not a huge believer” in the idea.

The Republican governor has said he won’t seek reelection in 2024, with some suggesting he has eyes on federal office.

Amid the pre-filed marijuana bills, one drug proposal that has yet to be unveiled is a Republican-requested measure, from Rep. Kevin Verville, relating to “the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.”

Rep. John Hunt (R), a commissioner who chaired the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee this year, worked extensively on marijuana reform issues during the past session and attempted to reach a compromise to enact legalization through a multi-tiered system that would include state-controlled shops, dual licensing for existing medical cannabis dispensaries and businesses privately licensed to individuals by state agencies.

Hunt’s House panel, however, reached an impasse on the complex legislation, which was being considered following a surprise announcement from Sununu that he in fact backed state-run legalization. Meanwhile the Senate defeated a more conventional legalization bill, HB 639, despite its bipartisan House support.

In May, the House defeated a different marijuana legalization amendment that was being proposed as part of a Medicaid expansion bill. The Senate that same month moved to table an earlier version of Thomas’s home cultivation legislation.

After the Senate rejected reform bills in 2022, the House included legalization language as an amendment to separate criminal justice-related legislation—but that was also struck down in the opposite chamber.

Missouri Expunges 100,000 Cannabis Offenses In First Year Of Legalization, Even As Some Courts Miss Deadline

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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