Sununu on marijuana decriminalization: Prefers half an ounce but OK with ounce
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu told NH1 News that when it comes to marijuana decriminalization, “I think I prefer the half an ounce, but I’m not objectionable to the ounce.”
The governor’s comments come as a bill to decriminalize marijuana is now making its way through the state Senate after it overwhelmingly passed the state House of Representatives last month.
Sununu added that “we’ll let the legislature go through their process and we’ll see where it ends up but I do believe in the decriminalization aspect of marijuana. Obviously not the full legalization. Those are two very different issues.”
The governor made his comments as he answered a question from NH1 News during a brief news conference with reporters following his bi-monthly meeting with the New Hampshire Executive Council.
The bill that passed the House (HB 640) by a 318-46 vote would decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the House bill. During that hearing, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley introduced an amendment to the bill that would lower the decriminalization level to half an ounce. The Republican senator from Wolfeboro teamed up with law enforcement leaders in putting together his amendment.
“I hope that the sponsors of the bill will work with law enforcement to address some of those concerns. That’s what I’m trying to do. I actually support decrim but I think it needs to be done in a way that there is least some level of buy in from law enforcement,” Bradley told NH1 News last week.
Bills to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have passed through the New Hampshire House of Representatives eight times over the past decade. But they’ve been repeatedly shot in the state Senate.
Last November voters in Massachusetts and Maine voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Sununu first advocated support for decriminalization during his campaign for governor last year. The Republican governor’s position is a switch from his Democratic predecessor, now U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, who opposed decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with reporters at the State House, on April 19, 2017