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.
State Representative Dick Marple again faced down Concord district court judge Kristin M Spath in their final round recently – his trial. At previous hearings and the trial, Marple has wowed observers by shouting at the judge and getting away with it as well as using long-talked-about court theories like refusing to cross the bar. (You can see his other hearings here and here.) He’s challenged jurisdiction from the beginning, and despite Spath’s ruling that she has jurisdiction, Marple still refused to participate in the trial they held for him on April 18th.
Instead he verbally sparred with Spath again for nearly 20 minutes before she proceeded with the show trial. Marple continued to refuse her invitation to cross the bar and sat in the audience through the state’s lone witness against him. Spath ended up taking the matter under advisement after the close of the state prosecutor’s case and later issued her ruling via a mailed order.
In the order, she found Marple not guilty of the misdemeanor “prohibitions” charge regarding his driver’s license, as the state neglected to present any actual evidence, but found him guilty of “driving after suspension”, sentencing him to $310 in fines, all suspended for six months on condition of Marple not getting any further moving motor vehicle violations in that timeframe.
Trial watchers had expected this light punishment for the 85-year-old state representative, who was able to get away with talking to a robed-person in a way that trial observers have ever seen. Most people who tried Marple’s approach would probably be arrested for “contempt of court” and thrown in jail. Was he able to talk back to the judge because Marple is a state rep? Perhaps because he’s elderly? Both?
Regardless, the big question now is whether or not he’ll appeal to the NH Supreme Court. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for any further developments!
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…)
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.
Marple has been charged for driving without a license and has argued that the court has no jurisdiction over him as he is not “operating a motor vehicle”, which he says is a legal term that only applies to people traveling for commercial purposes. Despite Marple filing an exhaustive legal memorandum outlining the various cases on which he bases his position, the robed woman cited her own court cases:
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has also consistently ruled that the operation of an automobile- upon a public highway is not a right, but” … only a privilege which the state may grant or withhold at pleasure …. ” State V; Sterrin, 78 N.H. 220, 222 (1916), citing Comm.v. Kingsbury, 199 Mass. 542. The Court, in State v. Sterrin, at 222, also cited State v. Corron, 73 N.H. 434, 446 (1905), which references a liquor licensee, by stating: “The statute confers a privilege which the citizen is at liberty to accept by becoming a licensee, or not, as he pleases. Having accepted the privilege, he cannot object to any conditions which have been attached thereto by a grantor with power to entirely withhold the privileges.”
Translation: “There is no right to travel safely on the roads without asking your master government’s permission first. We are in charge here and you’ll do what we say, or else.”
State Rep Dick Marple campaigns at the polls.
Spath then went on to have the trial date for Marple driving without the state permission slip set for April 18th at 12:45pm in Concord district court.
However, it doesn’t end there. Marple has since filed an 11-page “Affidavit of Truth – in Commerce – Second Demand” with the NH Secretary of State’s office and the court. In the affidavit, Marple challenges jurisdiction again, saying the court needs to show the signed “instrument” where he consents to their rule and further demands a jury trial. He says Spath’s stand on her alleged jurisdiction is an “abuse of discretion” and cites more court cases claiming that the state may not interfere in your personal business. He demands the case be dismissed with prejudice, saying that Spath’s claim that he voluntarily chose to acquire a license is false. Marple says he was under duress to contract for the license: (more…)
Now that he’s out of jail on bond, he’ll be able to better prepare for his trial, unless they offer him an even better plea deal, which he has indicated he’d be willing to negotiate. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
Virgil Vaduva and Ademo Freeman, After Ademo’s Release!