Is Weed Legal in New Hampshire?

Is recreational cannabis legal in New Hampshire? Is medicinal marijuana legal in New Hampshire? What about New Hampshire's CBD laws? Find out about the weed laws in New Hampshire in this article.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

Live Free or Die. That wasn't a threat, but rather, it was the motto New Hampshire residents adopted in 1945 after declaring independence from Great Britain in 1776. New Hampshire sits in between the states of Vermont and Maine in the north east of the US and has the shortest coast in the US at 18 miles.

While you may only be able to dip your toes in its short coastline, you can expect to see a lot of wildlife and trees in New Hampshire as more than forth-fifths of the state is forest, making it the second most forested state just behind its neighbor, Maine. An abundance of greenery isn't the only unique feature of the state, it is completely optional to wear a seatbelt or ride a motorcycle with a helmet.

In the heart of New Hampshire's White Mountains is the Cog Railway. The Cog Railway was the first uphill train track in the world and was designed by Sylvester Marsh in the mid 19th century and opened in 1869. Marsh designed the railway after he experienced severe indigestion whilst trying to hike the mountain.

Off the coast of New Hampshire lie the Isles of Shoals – nine small islands which are split between Maine and New Hampshire. One of the islands, Smuttynose Island, was allegedly the site of Blackbeard's honeymoon and the possible location of his buried treasure.

New Hampshire is also the homeplace of poet Robert Frost, author Dan Brown, actor Adam Sandler and comedian Sarah Silverman.

New Hampshire is a great place for outdoor mountain activities and treasure hunts, but can you smoke a blunt with Blackbeard? Is weed legal in New Hampshire?

Is recreational cannabis legal in New Hampshire?

Back in 2014, there was an attempt to legalize cannabis use in New Hampshire which would have made it one of the first US states to do so. In January, the state's legislature voted 170 to 162 in favour of legalizing cannabis use for those over the age of 21, but this bill was killed a few weeks later and never brought into effect.

In early 2019, a vote passed through the lower house to which would have made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, consume, cultivate, gift and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers. Ultimately, it was stalled in the Senate and never actioned.

Twelve months later, House Bill 1648 was voted through the House of Representatives and moved up to the Senate. If enacted, this proposal would not legalize commercial production or sales of cannabis. It was allow adults 21 and older to grow a limited number of plants at home and gift up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis to other adults. The bill is closely modelled on neighbouring Vermont's cannabis law.

Recreational use of marijuana has not been legalized in New Hampshire, but it was decriminalized in 2017. With decriminalisation in place, small amounts of marijuana are classified as similar to a driving fine – rather than a felony.

Under New Hampshire's decriminalisation action, any person over 18 years old in possession of less than three-quarters of an ounce is guilty of a violation with a maximum fine of $100. If you hit three offences in three years, that fine can be as much as $300, and on the fourth offence could go as high as $1200.

Possession of more than three-quarters of an ounce is a misdemeanour and can carry one year in prison and up to $250 in fines.

Hash and concentrates are treated similarly. Possession of less than five grams is a violation and carries up to a $100 fine, whereas more than five grams is a misdemeanour and carries up to one year in jail and a $350 fine. Possession of anywhere from five grams to one pound carries a maximum seven year jail term and up to $100,000.

Home cultivation of marijuana plants and possession of paraphernalia is also prohibited. Cultivation is treated the same as possession, with the same weight limits, but paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanour and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Being convicted of any cannabis possession crimes can also result in a driver's licence suspension of up to five years.

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Is medicinal marijuana legal in New Hampshire?

Medicinal marijuana was voted into state law in New Hampshire in 2013, with some of the strictest laws in the US. They were the 19th state to legalize medicinal marijuana, and the last state within New England. 

When the laws originally came into effect, the New Hampshire medical society made the controversial decision not to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to their list of qualifying conditions, stating that the anxiety dampening effects of cannabis work against regular cognitive behavioural therapy used to treat the condition. Since then, PTSD has been added to the list of qualifying conditions in the state.

The full list of qualifying conditions includes glaucoma, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, epilepsy, Crohn's disease and Parkinson's, as well as severe symptoms such as nausea, muscle spasms and chronic pain.

Patients need a referral from a qualified physician and can only purchase cannabis from registered dispensaries – of which there are limited numbers. Patients can purchase and possess up to two ounces of cannabis at one time.

New Hampshire also practices reciprocity – so long as the condition is also on the list of qualifying conditions within New Hampshire itself, and patients aren't able to service dispensaries, just possess their own medicinal marijuana.

There is a current bill within the senate which would allow for home cultivation for medicinal marijuana patients, but nothing has been made into law as yet.

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Is CBD legal in New Hampshire?

Cannabidiol (CBD) products were legalized across the entire US in 2018 when the Farm Bill was signed into effect. Under this bill, all CBD products with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content are legal for sale and consumption. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, so CBD products won't get you high.

So why take them? So far, there has been limited research into the positive effects of CBD products due to its very recent legalization. What has been found, however, is CBD can have positive effects for anxiety, insomnia, inflammation and chronic pain.

There have been studies which show a promising link to CBD use and decreasing cigarette consumption and assisting with lower alcohol consumption.

There is a booming market for CBD products, with celebrities such as Kristen Bell jumping on board and athletes such as Tony Hawk signing up in CBD partnerships. There are also studies being carried out by CBD companies to look at treating head trauma. There is a large market opening up for CBD in the sports world.

CBD consumption is widely varied. You can vape or ingest oils, eat edible gummies, take a pill form, or rub a topical cream directly onto your skin.

Although there are only early studies into CBD, it is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. As studies continue and stigma lowers worldwide, we're sure to see an increase in CBD treatments as natural medicines.

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Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond

Laura Desmond is an Adelaide-based writer with a keen interest in the arts, gender politics and social change. She is currently working to obtain a Master in Writing through Swinburne University.

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