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New Hampshire state Senate again rejects marijuana legalization bill

Supporters of bill say Senate should recognize will of people of New Hampshire

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Legalized marijuana has once again been rejected by the New Hampshire state Senate.

On a 14-10 vote Thursday, senators shot down the House bill that would have made cannabis legal for adult recreational use in the Granite State.

Thirteen Republicans and one Democrat voted against the House legalization bill, making the case that New Hampshire should not accept a life with marijuana smoke wafting through the air in public places.

"Anyone could smoke marijuana in a place like just outside this building, and we'd be smelling it right now, because if you're 20 feet away from a building, you're allowed to smoke in public under this bill," said state Sen. Bill Gannon, R-Sandown.

Nine Democrats and one Republican called for the Senate to respect the will of the majority of Granite Staters, who, polls show, support legalization, and to bring an end to what they contend is a failed policy.

"Continuing to criminalize the sale of cannabis perpetuates the failed war on drugs, a war we know has caused irreparable and irreversible harm to generations of our marginalized communities," said state Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton.

In a notable shift, Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy, long an opponent of cannabis legalization, changed her position and did not vote to kill the bill.

"I daresay we are not recognizing the reality of what's currently happening in our state," Soucy said.

The Democrat who voted to kill the legalization bill was Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, and the Republican who supported the bill was Sen. Keith Murphy, R-Manchester.

Some key members of the House, such as Republican Majority Leader Jason Osborne, have said that the negative result could sour relations between the two bodies, affecting other bills and even negotiations over the state budget. But for too many senators, cannabis legalization is a bridge too far, and they believe the harms far outweigh the benefits.

"No amount of revenue we could earn here in the state of New Hampshire, based on an illegal drug, is worth it," said state Sen. Carrie Gendreau, R-Littleton.


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