Although advocates are still zealously pushing for legalization this year, it seems unlikely to happen under a Republican-controlled legislature and governorship.
Democratic lawmakers have already filed for this year two bills that aim to legalize recreational use. HB 237 would also establish a regulated and taxed cannabis market while HB 629 will legalize simple possession and allow home cultivation. Primary sponsor Rep. Rebecca McWilliams said that they will continue to refine the bill and negotiate to try to come up with something that could potentially get to the two-thirds vote needed to override the governor’s veto.
However, both bills have already been “retained” by the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, effectively delaying any chance of legalization until 2022.
Aside from the Republican hurdle in the legislature, the Granite State’s incumbent governor, Chris Sununu, is known to be against marijuana. Sununu’s most recent action against marijuana reform was to veto HB 364 which would have allowed cultivation for therapeutic use. However, the governor may not be as hardline since he did express support for the state’s medical marijuana program and also signed a bill that annulled some cannabis-related possession convictions.
According to a poll last 2019, almost 68% of New Hampshire residents are strongly in favor of recreational marijuana. If Gov. Sununu chooses to listen to his constituents, legalization of possession and home cultivation can soon become a reality and the state’s laws would also likely influence the cannabis rules of its neighbors.
This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.
Overview of New Hampshire Marijuana Laws
Medical marijuana is already legal in New Hampshire under its Therapeutic Cannabis Program. Small amounts have also been decriminalized but home cultivation is still not allowed.
- Possession – Possession of up to ¾ oz has been decriminalized and only gets a $100 fine with no jail time. However, anything over this amount is considered a misdemeanor that gets a minimum penalty of 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $350.
- Sale – If the intent to sell can be proven, it is automatically a felony that gets penalties much greater for the same amount possessed.
- Less than an ounce – up to 3 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. A subsequent offense gets twice the penalty.
- More than 1 ounce to less than 5 lbs – up to 7 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000. A subsequent offense gets up to 15 years and twice the maximum fine.
- 5 lbs or more – up to 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $300,000. A subsequent offense gets twice the penalty.
- Within 1,000 feet of a school zone – twice the sentence and the fine.
- Cultivation – Cultivation offenses are given the same penalties are simple possession or possession with intent to sell.
- Less than 5 grams of hashish – a fine of $100.
- A third offense within 3 years of the first – a fine of $300.
- A fourth offense within 3 years of the first – Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1200.
- More than 5 grams – a misdemeanor that gets a minimum penalty of 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $350.
History of Marijuana in New Hampshire
One of the earliest efforts in favor of marijuana came in 1997 when Rep. Tim Robertson introduced a decriminalization bill. HB 188 would have reduced the penalty for possession of less than 1 and ½ ounces from a class A misdemeanor to a violation. However, the bill failed to advance after being killed in the House. The following year, Robertson introduced another bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana. It took up to 2013 and a more than a dozen other pro-marijuana bills before a medical cannabis bill got signed into law.
Even though a medical marijuana program finally got approved under Gov. Maggie Hassan, it was too restrictive, such that it only allowed patients to use cannabis after all other courses of treatment have failed. The home cultivation provision was also removed and took too long to roll out. This led to a cancer patient by the name of Linda Horan to sue the state for its inability to issue her a medical marijuana card.
A dozen more bills seeking legalization of recreational marijuana, home cultivation, and decriminalization were passed and killed until 2017 where simple possession was finally decriminalized. The bill, which Gov. Sununu signed, made new Hampshire the last New England state to decriminalize small amounts.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of New Hampshire
How do New Hampshire marijuana laws compare with home growing laws in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about marijuana legalization in New Hampshire
No, adult-use cannabis is currently illegal in New Hampshire.
None. Home cultivation of recreational cannabis is not allowed in New Hampshire.
Yes, New Hampshire has a therapeutic cannabis program that allows patients and caregivers to legally possess cannabis.
None. Home cultivation of medical cannabis is still not allowed in New Hampshire.
Two recreational legalization bills have already been filed for this year. HB 237 aims to regulate and tax retail cannabis sales while HB 629 will legalize simple possession and allow home cultivation. However, the state’s House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted to retain both bills, delaying their consideration until 2022.
Residents are not allowed to cultivate marijuana, whether recreational or medical, at home in New Hampshire.
Only adult workers employed by a licensed marijuana production entity may legally grow medical cannabis in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire may have a more difficult time passing a legalization bill at par with other pro-weed states given the current governor’s opposition. The success of the bills currently making its way through the legislature would likely depend on the efforts of marijuana rights groups as well as the developments with the marijuana policies of other New England States.