Marijuana has been the subject of controversy in America since its decriminalization on several states. There are those who argue that smoking pot is destructive, not only to its users, but to the whole community.
But there are proponents of the drug that is pushing forward its legalization. One state that is being look at now is New Hampshire.
The bill is poised to changed possession of half an ounce of Marijuana or less from a crime to a violation. People who are age 18 or older that are caught with half an ounce of pot are to be fine $100 for their first offense, $200 for their second, and $500 for their third. Those below 18 would be subjected to doing community service for 35 hours and is to participate in programs regarding substance abuse, and may lose their driving license.
There have been a total of six bills passed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2008 which would align the state’s Marijuana law with the whole of New England.
With the “420” holiday coming up this Monday, proponents of the bill are trying again with the hopes that the outcome would weigh in their favor.
Republican Adam Schroadter of New Market, the main sponsor of the bill, voiced that an individual caught with little amount of Marijuana should not be marked with a criminal record which could inhibit the said individual from getting employed or entering college.
There’s also the matter of the amount of money that the state spends to enforce Marijuana laws. Manchester Representative Joseph Lachance said that it’s costing New Hampshire an estimated $6,526,364 to carry out the current law on smoking pot. This expenditure circumscribes many of the state’s resources like police and criminal justices, resources that should be spent on more serious problems.
Meeting at the middle
As it currently stands, Marijuana decriminalization is being supported by 59 percent of respondents who participated in a poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. However, Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire’s governor, said that if the bill ever reaches her desk, she would veto it.
There are also people that see Marijuana as a gateway to far more dangerous drugs.
With these two factions colliding against each other, is there a middle ground where they could settle? Senator David Watters, who’s been known to side against Marijuana decriminalization, feels that the bill can potentially pass the senate if certain changes could be made.
Watters stated that he might side with the bill if it attached criminal charges on people who violated it in subsequent cases.
Even with this bill getting green-lighted, New Hampshire would have the most stringent Marijuana law in all of New England. Both Vermont and Massachusetts have 1 ounce limit, and Maine has just increased theirs from 1.2 ounces to 2 ounces.
There is no current date set in the Senate for a full hearing of the bill. Celebrators of the “420” holiday this coming Monday will have to be circumspect with their pot-smoking if they don’t want criminal charges scribbled on their record.