Citizens weigh in on marijuana decriminalization - 1822 responses

Mar 07, 2015

On March 11, the NH House passed HB 618, a bill that would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a violation, and make the cultivation of six or less marijuana plants a misdemeanor. Instead of potential jail time, offenders would now be subject to fines of up to $500, with slightly stricter penalties for people under the age of 18. In the week before the vote, Gov. Maggie Hassan has previously stated her opposition to the bill, making a veto look likely if it passes the Senate, but where do NH citizens stand? 

On March 7th, the Live Free or Die Alliance asked its 50,000-plus Facebook members, "Should NH decriminalize the possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana?" The response was strongly in favor, with 88% of those directly answering the question expressing support for the change, while only 12% were opposed. Twenty percent of total respondents opted not to give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to broader issues, while an additional 29% - nearly one-third of total respondents – specifically called for full marijuana legalization. In sum, the LFDA received 448 specific comments and 1,374 concurrences for a total of 1,822 citizen responses.

Supporters of the bill argued it would save the state money and allow more attention to be focused on bigger issues. "I'd rather see our law enforcement working on the heroin epidemic than arresting and jailing people that got caught smoking a joint," one commenter said. Another argued that the bill would "keep a lot of people's record clean and NH makes some money." "We need to put criminals in prison not recreational drug users," a third commenter noted. 

Those opposed to the move talked about the ill effects of marijuana and expressed concerns over the effect of decriminalization. "I don't want it around my family," one commenter said. "I truly believe it should be a felony for anyone to possess marijuana. It's a gateway drug and is not good for NH," another argued. 

A large portion of those who opted not to give a yes or no response to the decriminalization question called instead of complete legalization of the drug. "Make it legal and make money on the tax instead of spending money to stop it," one commenter said. "If someone wants to smoke some pot they should be free to do it," another stated. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

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