House Bill 481, known as the bill to legalize cannabis for New Hampshire, had its first hearing on Feb. 5. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing and proposes the legalization of marijuana, along with a taxation proposal and regulation guidelines.

Cushing has spoken on the topic and noted that now is an ideal time for New Hampshire to join the 10 states that have already moved to legalize recreational use of cannabis. He notes that the state’s economic status will improve, and the potential increase in businesses and related jobs is another incentive that will draw in residents and outside elements to further benefit New Hampshire as a whole.

The bill outlines the following as legal: up to one ounce of marijuana and 5 grams of concentrated cannabis, the growth of as many as six adult plants and a new commission to license and regulate the industry, which is estimated as a potential influx of $33 million for the state economy.

Various marijuana advocates support the bill, noting that legalization will be a measure to combat unfair penalization of residents by law enforcement.

For those against the move, however, concerns range from beliefs that opioid abuse may be encouraged because of marijuana legalization to the belief that now is not the appropriate time for such a move to legalize. This includes current Governor Chris Sununu, who has said the bill won’t be signed even if it makes it to his desk.

The hearing itself welcomed speakers for both sides of the issue. Those in attendance included New Hampshire law enforcement officials, who maintain that dealing with impaired drivers will be challenging because of the current lack of testing options. Meanwhile, those in favour discussed the fact that a lot of concern about legalization is because of the unknowns of marijuana.

Research and a better understanding of the drug provide those who support legalization with increasing recognition of the benefits of the drug for medical treatments.

Advocates maintain that legalization means a reduction of options for those in gangs or involved in the black market that is currently going strong in the state. The violence associated with drugs decreases due to the move to legalize and regulate the market for said drug.