NH1 Newsmakers: Likely decriminalizing marijuana will finally pass the state Senate
Written by NH1 News Political Director Paul Steinhauser on .
CONCORD – A top Republican in New Hampshire’s state Senate predicts that a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession will pass through his chamber.
The measure, which would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, was overwhelming approved by a 318-36 vote in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The measure has passed through that chamber eight times over the past ten years, but has repeatedly been shot down in the state Senate.
State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley told NH1 News that “I think actually this year it’s likely to pass but I think it’s going to likely be probably a little bit different than the House bill.”
In an interview Thursday on the latest edition of NH1 Newsmakers, the Republican lawmaker from Wolfeboro said “if you’re not a drug dealer and you have small amount of marijuana, I can see that passing on a decriminalized basis in the Senate, but perhaps with escalating fines on a second and third offense. Somewhat more limited than what I believe the House is sending to us. I think that will pass the Senate.”
Republicans hold a 14-10 majority in the chamber.
State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, who’s authored a bill this legislative session to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in New Hampshire, says he’d back the House bill.
“I certainly can support it. It’s good legislation,” the Democrat from Dalton said on NH1 Newsmakers.
Then-Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan (who’s now the state’s freshman U.S. senator) opposed decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. But her Republican successor in the Corner Office, Gov. Chris Sununu, supported decriminalization during his campaign for governor last year.
Asked by reporters after Wednesday’s House vote if he would sign the bill if it reached his desk, Sununu said "I support decriminalizing marijuana."