Last week, New Hampshire voters sent a strong message to Gov. Chris Sununu and the political establishment: it’s time to end marijuana prohibition! Although Sununu (a prohibitionist) won re-election, his margin of victory over legalization supporter Molly Kelly was smaller than anticipated. Most importantly, the Democratic party — which added support for legalization to its platform earlier this year — gained control of both chambers of the legislature.
The Senate, in particular, promises to be much less hostile to reform advocates in 2019. To illustrate, here are a few senators who were voted out last week:
• Sen. Gary Daniels (R-Milford) voted no on all cannabis reform bills throughout his time in the House and Senate. Voters replaced him with Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), who has been much more reasonable on cannabis policy as a member of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
• Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) voted against a 2018 bill that would have allowed registered patients to cultivate their own limited supply of cannabis. Voters replaced him with a legalization supporter, former Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline).
• Sen. Bill Gannon (R-Sandown) strongly opposed all sensible marijuana policy reforms throughout his time in the House and Senate. This was supposed to be a safe Republican district, but voters chose to replace Gannon with legalization supporter Jon Morgan (D-Brentwood).
The odds of passing a legalization bill improved significantly as a result of the election. However, in order to achieve victory in the House and Senate, we will need a robust effort to educate and persuade undecided legislators.
After the election, I published a commentary in the Union Leader, making the case that “cannabis is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and most residents of the ‘Live Free or Die’ state are ready to see it treated that way.”
Please help us get our 2019 campaign off to a great start by contributing to the Marijuana Policy Project today!
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Author: Kate Zawidzki