CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire.
The new law will reduce the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor — currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 — to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense. A fourth offense within three years of the first offense could be charged as a class B misdemeanor, but there would be no arrest or possibility of jail time.
The law will take effect in 60 days. New Hampshire will become the last of the New England states to eliminate the possibility of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
House Bill 640 was sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, who has also supported full legalization of marijuana.
“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.”
The Marijuana Policy Project said New Hampshire is the 22nd state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana.