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!
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.
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.
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.