New Hampshire state officials are reviewing a bill for legalizing recreational use of marijuana. In the meantime, the NH Department of Revenue Administration has been studying the potential revenue stream from the drug, and the results are promising.
The most recent figures regarding legalized marijuana use with a 15% state tax put the potential revenue between $26 and 57 million. If the tax were lowered to 7%, the revenue is estimated between $15 and 32 million. These numbers come in as a slight improvement over estimates compiled in December, which had the high end of potential revenue at $47 million.
The preliminary bill was approved earlier this year, but it was then sent back for review by the committee.
Studies on public opinion in the state show that roughly 57% of state residents believe that adults, age 21 and over, should be legally allowed to use marijuana recreationally. This comes at a time when almost all of the states surrounding NH will be legalizing or are at least considering measures to legalize marijuana use.
A Commission to Study the Legalization Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana is set to deliver a complete study of the potential effects of such a move by November. The commission does not intend to recommend one move over another regarding the bill; instead, the goal is to provide the most comprehensive look at both sides of legalization and allow the legislature a better grasp of the effect of the move.
The measures outlined for New Hampshire include a free market, where the state does not set a number for licenses and hand them out. However, there will be laws regarding the location of a potential vendor, as well as a requirement that one owner of the business be a New Hampshire resident. This requirement, along with background checks, will be in place as a deterrent to organized crime involvement in the state’s cannabis market.
The report also looks at the most effective regulatory body and recommends a group including three commissioners and an executive director – a setup similar to that used for the state lottery system.
Concerns for failure to legalize include the idea that the black market will be fueled by the surrounding states, so the struggle with crime involving marijuana use will continue while the state misses out on the potential boost to the economy and funding for education and measures to help prevent abuse.
Unlike in other states, the fate of this bill is highly dependent on the way the elections go in November. The potential shift in political representatives will go a long way towards cementing the future of marijuana legalization in NH.