New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has signed legislation reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis, and with it effectively decriminalized low-level cannabis possession in New England. The measure makes possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of flower and up to five grams of hashish by adults 18-and-older a violation rather than a misdemeanor.
New England includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Last November, voters in Maine and Massachusetts both approved adult-use measures, while possession of less than an ounce of cannabis is a simple violation in the remaining states. New Hampshire was the only holdout in the region.
New Hampshire’s law specifically prohibits police from making any arrests for a cannabis possession violation, and offenders under 18 caught possessing less than the threshold would be subject to a delinquency petition, WMUR-9 reports.
Adults found possessing above the threshold will be fined $100 for the first or second offense and $300 for subsequent offenses within a three-year period. A fourth offense will result in a misdemeanor charge. Money collected from fines will be deposited into the state fund for alcohol and substance abuse treatment.
Justin Strekal, NORML political director, said the measure allows the state to “join the chorus of states that recognize the baseline level of dignity for its citizens and tourists” who choose to use cannabis.
“Soon, throughout New England, individuals will be able to freely travel without the threat of jail time for possession of marijuana,” he said in a statement.
Sununu previously called the legislation “common sense marijuana reform.” The bill takes effect in 60 days.