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.
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.
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.
Not only does New Hampshire now have more sitting state reps than the other 49 states combined, but Dyer and Stallcop, both 21 years old, are forming what is likely the youngest political caucus in the history of the United States.
Now that state reps from both parties have openly defected to the libertarians, the big question is which state rep will be next? Will the courage of these two young men inspire the other libertarian reps who are still operating as republicans and democrats to “come out”? Former state reps Eric Eastman and Joe Lachance also recently revealed they have flipped from republican to join the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.
State Representative Joseph Stallcop, of Keene’s Ward One
Rep. Stallcop joining the Libertarian Party is also historic as he is the second sitting democrat state representative to have ever done so in the 45-year history of the national party.
New Hampshire, of course, also holds the distinction of having the first-ever democrat state rep to have flipped, when prior to the 2000 election, late state representative Steve Vaillancourt joined the party as a sitting democratic state rep and then ran for re-election in 2000 as a libertarian and won! This fact contradicts those naysayers in the liberty movement who have been claiming it’s impossible for libertarians who make the flip to actually win re-election. What they are saying is impossible has already been proven possible by New Hampshire’s own political history! In addition to Vaillancourt, in the nineties New Hampshire had multiple libertarian state reps who also won re-election.
At this morning’s press conference, Stallcop gave an excellent speech that revealed the command-and-control structure in the NH democratic party, which echoed Dyer’s experience in the republican party. Thinking for one’s self when in the major parties is apparently discouraged and voting his conscience resulted in his democratic colleagues lying to and looking down on him. One was overheard saying of him, “Maybe we shouldn’t have college students doing this job.” (more…)
Liberty Lobbyist Darryl W Perry, along with me and others from the Keene area went to the state house this week and last to testify on more legislation. The hearings are slowing down for the year, so we don’t have as much to show, but here are the videos:
SB 3 would make registering to vote more difficult for some people, like college students. Darryl W. Perry spoke against it in an exhaustive six-hour public hearing in the full state house chamber. Here’s just his testimony:
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.
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
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…)