New Hampshire Senate votes down plan to allow small amounts of legal marijuana

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New Hampshire

Supporters say legalization would bring NH in line with other New England states

Any hope for some form of marijuana legalization this year in Concord went up in smoke Thursday in the state Senate.

A bipartisan majority of state senators shot down a proposal that would have made legal the possession of up to three-fourths of an ounce of marijuana and cannabis-infused products with no more than 300 milligrams of THC.

"The problem with this amendment, for those of you who want to legalize marijuana, you haven't done it right," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.

"You don't have any structure for selling it. You don't have any upper limits for THC. The laws for alcohol and marijuana proposed in this amendment for under age 21 are problematic."

Supporters of the proposal said the narrow legalization would bring New Hampshire more in line with its New England neighbors.

"This is a very limited step where I think we can consider all of the data that's in front of us," said state Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, D-Portsmouth.

"I think we can listen to our constituents and make sure we're following the science."

Progressive Democrats contend that drug laws are unevenly enforced in New Hampshire, with action taken disproportionately against people of color.

"That means that the legalization of marijuana is a racial justice issue," said state Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton.

For now, the line appears to have been drawn in New Hampshire at decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis and medical marijuana. Some senators said they want Congress to settle the legalization issue, and until it's resolved there, they won't put their constituents at risk of violating federal law.

"And we know in that fight, we know who's going to win, and it's not going to be us," said state Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry.

"The people are the ones that are going to be hurt by what we do here today. Maybe they'll all have smoked so much pot they're not going to care; they'll be oblivious. But we care."

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