74% of NH Senate Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis & Governor Promises to Sign!

Cannabis

NH Senate Votes 17-6 for Decrim!

This time, it wasn’t even close. The senate of New Hampshire finally did the right thing after years of debate and failed votes. Yesterday, they voted overwhelmingly, 17-6 to decriminalize possession of up to 3/4ths of an ounce of cannabis and up to five grams of hashish! That’s 74% of the NH senate voting in favor, after nearly 90% of the state house did the same.

On the same day as the senate passing this bill, (HB 640) NH’s new governor issued a press release promising to sign the bill! (Something the last governor refused to do.)

The bill is certainly not perfect, as it still has civil fines for cannabis possession but it’s no longer an arrestable offense and is no longer going to be charged as a misdemeanor, unless the person is caught three times in three years. In that case, the fourth ticketing would be a class B misdemeanor, but the person still cannot be arrested. The first offense is fined at $100 and subsequent offenses within that three year period would be $300 each. The floor discussion today made it clear this bill was a compromise from both the law enforcement side and those who want to end prohibition.

Besides the continuing fines and the fact that law enforcement will continue to confiscate people’s weed, the worst part of the bill carves out an exemption where 18-21 year olds are treated more harshly than those 21 and up. Possession of cannabis-infused products remains a misdemeanor for those 18-21, sadly. Hopefully this will be rolled back in the future.

The bill is however a step in the right direction. That said, when will we have a state rep with the courage to put forward a total end to cannabis prohibition? New Hampshire needs to stop there and stop trying to do what other states have done and legalize with a regulatory and tax scheme. Let’s just try freedom and watch the cannabis industry boom in the Shire.

Add this great news to the 101 Reasons Lives in New Hampshire!

UPDATE: 5/12 6:20pm – possession of cannabis-infused products is still a misdemeanor for those 18-21, I misread the bill earlier when I reported wrongly that all possession for those ages is still a misdemeanor.

Here’s partial video of the senate floor hearing and vote:

VIDEO: Business Owner Arrested for Crossing Street at DUI Checkpoint in Manchester

NHexit Rally in Keene, July 2016

Chris Waid (right), safely demonstrating for NH independence, in the median on Main St. in Keene in 2016.

On April 20th, Manchester police conducted another DUI checkpoint, believed to be the first of 2017. As always, Cop Blockers and more than a dozen other liberty activists came out with signs redirecting peaceful motorists away from turning down Bridge St, where they would have hit the checkpoint.

Longtime Manchester Cop Blocker Riaz Kahan stated that the interdiction was a major success, with 90% of cars that were intending to turn towards the checkpoint being redirected to another route, avoiding unnecessary police harassment. Manchester police conduct at least a few of these checkpoints per year and activists from all over the state are attracted to help. It’s another unprecedented level of activism that happens easily and regularly in New Hampshire, since there are active migrations of libertarians moving here. (Check out 101 reasons why, here.)

However, for the first time in the history of Manchester’s checkpoints, an activist was arrested. Not for DUI, but for crossing the street, walking toward the checkpoint.

Keene-based activist and privacy-centric computer hardware entrepreneur Christopher Waid was the victim of the police’s most recent attack on freedom of the press. We were merely trying to cross the street so as to better observe the police’s unconstitutional checkpoint activity. However as we began to approach the median multiple police shouted at us including officer #1, Robert Harrington, who you may remember as the cop who popped Derrick J Freeman’s car door open without permission several years back. Here’s the video of Chris’ arrest and post-bail interview:

Chris is a weekly co-host on syndicated radio show Free Talk Live, where we discussed the arrest on last Friday’s show. He’s a rare breed – a business owner who is willing to put his very freedom on the line. If more business owners had this level of courage, they could just ignore the government rather than obey them, and the government would have to go away.

In addition to standing up for freedom of the press, Chris is an active police accountability activist, with many hours logged in the streets, recording cops. It is his right to stand where he wants, so long as he’s not actively interfering in police investigations. By standing in the median, he’s taking his risk and the police have no obligation to protect him, especially from himself. If they try to use the argument that them yelling at him was for his own safety, that hopefully won’t hold up in court. We’ve been in medians frequently for activism in Keene and police here have been mostly respectful towards us. By the way, Chris is a homeowner in Keene, to which he moved his linux hardware business, Think Penguin in early 2016.

He’s currently facing a “Disorderly Conduct” Class A charge – the police’s favorite catch-all to target people they don’t like. Of course, we’ll continue to follow Chris’ case closely here on Free Keene, so stay tuned.

4/20: State Representatives Smoke Cannabis at NH State House with Crowd of 100+

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Since 2009, on April 20th at 4:20pm people from across New Hampshire gather in front of the State House in Concord to commit mass civil disobedience by smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise consuming cannabis in public. As has happened in previous years, we were again joined by multiple state representatives including Libertarian Caleb Dyer of Pelham, NH as well as Keene’s Ward One Democrat, Joseph Stallcop, and Republican Glen Aldrich of Gilford.

Representatives Dyer and Stallcop were both featured speakers and also toked up with a crowd of over 100 people while representative Aldrich took photos, as he has done for years at the rally. Also photographing the event was Granite Haze of Mind blogger Justin Campagnone – you can check out his albums here. I had the honor of video recording the event, including all the speakers. I’ll be posting each speech to the Free Keene YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell on the YouTube channel to see the videos as they are released! Meanwhile, here’s a video with some highlights of the event to tide you over:

This year’s event began with speakers at 3pm including representatives Dyer & Stallcop, me explaining the right of Jury Nullification, and Libertarian Party of NH chairman Darryl W Perry. The overcast weather threatened rain which thankfully never materialized and the temperature was cool and pleasant with a couple dozen already in attendance at 3pm by the street, smoking cannabis and chalking messages on the pavement. As we closed in on 4:20pm (the time that cannabis is used in celebration globally) the numbers of attendees swelled to easily over 100 people.

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Event organizer and executive director of the 420 Foundation, Shire Dude emceed (and live streamed) the event. As the crowd gathered directly in front of the state house close to 4:20, we heard from speakers including Carla Gericke of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, the executive director of the NH Cannabis Freedom Festival, Rick Naya, and medical cannabis consultant John Padellaro who told us how cannabis helped him with his inoperable brain growth. Padellaro also said, “I don’t support legalization. I support ending prohibition.” This sentiment was echoed by speakers Perry and Gericke, with Gericke also calling on New Hampshire’s new governor, Chris Sununu, to pardon all peaceful drug offenders and end funding for “Granite Hammer”. Perry and representative Dyer’s speeches focused on the current legal status and future of cannabis reform in New Hampshire while Naya reflected on the previous 420 rallies and people we’ve lost to prohibition. In his off-the-cuff speech, representative Stallcop of Keene told the attendees, “we need to stop looking at each other in terms of left or right. I see, in all honesty, there is right and there is wrong…We will stand together as one people and say that this is our decision, this is our choice.” (more…)

Manchester Activists Protest US Syria Strikes

Last weekend, Manchester liberty activists gathered downtown for a protest aimed at US military intervention in Syria. While libertarians support self-defense of the individual, they also support consensual methods of paying for group defense. If someone wants to go attack people in other lands, those supporters should be the ones who pay for it. People who want peace should not be forced, through taxation, to foot the bill for violent adventurism. Hopefully, secession will help disconnect the people of New Hampshire from the depredations of the evil federal government in the future.

The protest did attract some media attention as WMUR-TV reporter Siobhan Lopez filed this video report. Thanks to Kathy Peterson for the photo.

Protesting US Attacks on Syria

Protesting US Attacks on Syria

NH Bitcoiners Speak to Senate Committee About Bitcoin Protection Bill – VIDEO

Bitcoin NH License Plate

Bitcoiners Love NH

The New Hampshire house of representatives recently passed a historic Bitcoin protection bill, that if it makes it through the senate and governor will make New Hampshire the opposite of New York. New York is infamous for its “bitlicense” regulations that drove multiple bitcoin businesses out of the Empire State. In contrast, New Hampshire, if this bill passes, would become a state with explicit protection against regulating Bitcoin businesses as “money transmitters”.

Last week, HB 436 had its public hearing before the senate commerce committee and a bunch of bitcoiners from across the state came out to sign and testify in favor of the bill, which would help ensure Bitcoin businesses continue to launch in and relocate to New Hampshire. It would further solidify New Hampshire’s place in the world as a cryptocurrency hotspot.

The speakers in favor far outnumbered those speaking against, which was really only the NH banking commission, who obviously does not want to lose hold of any of their precious power.

Those who spoke were on point and did a great job communicating with the senators on the committee. Turns out that two of those senators, Andy Sanborn and chairman Daniel Innis both already own bitcoin!

Will the bill pass the senate and be signed by the governor, or will the banking bureaucrats pull out all the stops to crush it? Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on the NH Bitcoin scene.

Here’s the full hearing video:

What Happened to the NH Budget?

State Representative Caleb Dyer

Libertarian State Representative Caleb Dyer

This past Wednesday and Thursday the New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to approve either HB1 or HB2 with their committee amendments.  The failure was caused by an unexpected of coalition of Democrats and the NH House Freedom Caucus (NHHFC) in opposition.  On Wednesday both the Democrats and the House Freedom Caucus brought forth amendments to make late efforts to offer alternatives to the committee amendment that was expected to fail.  

The Eaton amendment was offered by the Democrats for HB1 to reinclude full day kindergarten and increase contributions to select funds.  This amendment failed when the House Freedom Caucus and Republican majority voted in coalition to defeat it.  The House Freedom Caucus brought the Ammon amendment which was a broad “back of the budget cut” in the amount of $200 million which would have required the office of the Governor to find $200 million to satisfy such reductions.  The Ammon amendment also put back into HB1 $219 million in federal funds that had been withheld from the budget by the Finance Committee’s amendment.  After the failure of each bill’s committee amendments and floor amendments House leadership moved to table each bill.  

There was a meeting at 2:30pm on Wednesday between delegates from the House Freedom Caucus including Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), Rep. Victoria Sullivan (R-Manchester), Rep. Eric Schleien (R-Hudson), me (L-Pelham) and the House Majority leadership joined by Finance Committee Chair Neal Kurk (R-Weare).  In this meeting we went over a list of major General Fund appropriations including the Municipal Aid provision, the Community College System provision, and the Department of Safety appropriations which were to be targeted for reductions.  Leadership expressed concern that federal matching funds may be lost as a result of reductions to these funds.  

The delegates from the House Freedom Caucus asserted that the position of the caucus was that they would vote for a budget with no more that a 3.0% increase over the last biennium.  Despite this the delegates also asked the leadership if there was some percentage increase where the two camps could “meet in the middle” as Finance chair Kurk had previously indicated that he could, in fact, find cuts that could bring the increase down from 10.5% (in the General Fund) to 4.5% over last biennium.  This proposal had been mentioned to the House Freedom Caucus in convention by delegate John Burt and caucus leader J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton).  The House Majority leadership did not appear to be able to pre-emptively agree to a 4.5% above budget without seeing the specific cuts included in the final amendment.   (more…)