The New Hampshire House passed legislation last month that would allow state-run liquor stores to sell adult-use cannabis, but lawmakers in the Senate aren’t as keen on the proposal.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended killing the legislation in a 5-0 vote April 20, according to the New Hampshire Bulletin.
House Bill 1598, sponsored by Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, would legalize the possession and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and would allow the New Hampshire Liquor Commission to regulate and oversee the cultivation, manufacturing, testing and sale of adult-use cannabis in the state.
The legislation would also allow New Hampshire’s municipalities to limit or prohibit adult-use cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions.
The Ways and Means Committee deemed H.B. 1598 “inexpedient to legislate,” and the committee’s recommendation will appear before the full New Hampshire Senate for a vote in the coming weeks, the New Hampshire Bulletin reported.
At Wednesday’s committee hearing, Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, echoed advocates who claimed that the legislation would create a purchasing monopoly and put cannabis cultivators at a disadvantage, according to the news outlet.
Hennessey also expressed concerns about competition with New Hampshire’s existing medical cannabis businesses, how to use the tax revenue generated from adult-use sales and the lack of legalization for cannabis edibles, which would be prohibited under H.B. 1598.
“I would love to be able to fix this bill, but there’s just too many questions that we’ve received that do not make it fixable for those who would like to see marijuana legalized in the state,” Hennessey said, according to the New Hampshire Bulletin.
Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, expressed additional concerns about the Liquor Commission’s ability to take on the task of overseeing an adult-use cannabis industry, and pushed back on the lack of social justice and social equity provisions in the bill, according to the news outlet.
The New Hampshire House passed a separate adult-use legalization bill, House Bill 629, in January. That proposal, sponsored by Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, would allow adults to possess up to three-fourths of an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants at home, but would not establish a commercial adult-use market in the state.
H.B. 629 won favor in the Senate Judiciary committee and is up for an April 21 vote in the full Senate, the New Hampshire Bulletin reported.