New Hampshire Legalization Initiative Approved by House Committee

A New Hampshire House committee has approved House Bill 1598-FN which would develop a state-run cannabis market for people 21 years and older. This bill will now be sent to the full for a second floor vote.

On Monday, the House Ways & Means Committee met for a third time to discuss the initiative and passed it under a 12-10 vote. This comes sooner than expected, as members weren’t supposed to vote on the issue until Wednesday.

If this goes through, this will be the first government-run cannabis market within the United States. Naturally, this comes with plenty of reservations and we can only look to Canada to get an idea of how such an industry develops.

While cannabis is legal on a national level in Canada, individual provinces are allowed to develop their own laws surrounding the plant. In turn, certain provinces have developed state-run markets.

Nova Scotia is a prime example where only the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is allowed to grow, manufacture, and sell cannabis products—either through retail stores or online sales. While Nova Scotians are consuming the most marijuana, their industry isn’t the most ideal for consumers – with higher prices and a lack of a competitive market.

Still, one thing is certain about state-run cannabis markets. With so much control over the industry, a state can ensure that there’s little room for some of the errors we’ve seen in other states. For example, in California, there’s been an oversupply of cannabis products which has led to a massive spike in black market sales.

Most of the discussions currently taking place in New Hampshire are surrounding the potential for revenue through taxes and cannabis regulations. While some of these plans have promise (such as the proposed 15-license cap on a privately-owned cultivation site’s ability to supply state-run stores), there are some worries about how legalization may affect the already-established medical industry.

Difficulties with the New Hampshire Initiative

One of the number one issues surrounding this new bill is the fact that it won’t allow for cannabis-infused products, such as edibles, tinctures, and topicals. There is some confusion behind this restriction as medical patients in the state are currently allowed to purchase such products. Not to mention, there’s a large consumer base out there that would prefer to eat cannabis-infused treats rather than smoke a bowl.

Since this bill proposes a state-run industry, that also means New Hampshire would have to present a good chunk of start-up costs—from getting the supply chain going to providing income for state employees working in cannabis.

Naturally, this can produce unforeseen problems—especially if the cannabis market doesn’t meet the state’s expectations.

Still, there’s no telling whether or not the bill will pass. Governor Chris Sununu (R) has had a long history of opposing recreational cannabis. While he’s admitted in most recent interviews that he’s “not fully committed” to that position, he’s certainly not as open to it as other states we’ve seen legalize.

Not to mention, both the Senate majority leader and minority leader agree that they don’t think now is the time for legalization. Part of their reason has to do with recent inflation being seen across the United States.


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