The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved a bill that would permit residents to grow their own marijuana, smoke it, and give it to friends.

The proposed legislation cleared the House in a 236-112 vote and it will now go to the Senate for scrutiny. HB 1648 would not legalize commercial marijuana sales, meaning the state would not benefit from any tax revenue.

The House passed a full legalization bill last year, but it ground to a halt in the Senate. Advocates believe the new, milder legislation stands a better chance of success, but there is still a long way to go.

If it gains approval in the Senate, it will be sent to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu to be signed into law. However, he has never been a supporter of legalization efforts.

Campaign group NORML marked the start of 2020 by creating a Gubernatorial Scorecard. It assigned each governor with a grade based on his or her support for more liberal cannabis policy. Sununu received a D+.

He signed a limited decriminalization bill into law in 2017, but last year he vetoed a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own weed at home. It gained approval in both chambers, but Sununu decided to reject it in August.

The House voted 259-120 to override that veto, but the following day efforts to override it fell short by three votes in the Senate and it was killed off.

A new bill seeking to allow home cultivation for patients was launched this year and the New Hampshire Senate approved it earlier this month. It is now working its way through the House, and if successful it will be sent to Sununu for consideration once again.

HB 1648, the bill that has just gained House approval, would allow all adults in New Hampshire to grow up to three mature and three immature plants, while they could make their own edible products, ointments, and tinctures.

Personal use would be permitted, along with possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce. Anyone found with more than the permitted amount would be handed a misdemeanour charge.

Friends would be able to give one another marijuana, but the text makes clear that companies cannot throw it in for free when selling people a nominal product in order to circumvent the law.

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