Poll Results Show New Hampshire Support for Adult-Use Legalization | Turn 420
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Poll Results Show New Hampshire Support for Adult-Use Legalization

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On June 20, the University of New Hampshire published the poll results of its numerous state topics such as Gov. Chris Sununu’s job performance, housing as the most important problem statewide, and cannabis legalization.

Recently, a cannabis legalization bill (House Bill 1633) which was rejected by legislators in a 178-173 vote on June 13. To date, it was the only bill to have made such progress in New Hampshire. If passed, it would have legalized adult-use cannabis by 2026, established possession restrictions, permitted up to 15 “franchises” to sell cannabis, and set the tax rate at 15%.

Despite HB-1633’s failure to pass on to Sununu’s desk, New Hampshire residents still show strong support for legalization.  “Despite broad public support, a bipartisan compromise to legalize recreational marijuana in the state was tabled by the New Hampshire House of Representatives, effectively killing the bill for this legislative session,” the report stated. “Two-thirds (65%) of Granite Staters strongly (45%) or somewhat (20%) support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, 19% are strongly (11%) or somewhat (8%) opposed, 15% are neutral on the issue, and less than 1% are unsure.”

It also mentioned that support for adult-use cannabis legalization decreased from 72% in May 2023 to 65% in 2024 and attributed this change to a decrease in support by Independents and Republicans. “Large majorities of self-described socialists (97%) and progressives (95%) and most libertarians (76%), liberals (72%), and moderates (66%) support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but only 41% of conservatives agree,” the report continued. In February 2022, a poll found that 74% of residents approved of legalization.

Interestingly, only 16% of people polled said that they heard details about HB-1633, while only 45% had heard “some about it,” 28% had heard “not very much,” and 10% had heard “nothing at all.” Specifically among the 10% that heard nothing at all (approximately 1,060 participants), 37% said that they strongly support legalization, while only 24% “somewhat” support it, 14% are neutral. Additionally, also within the 10%, 23% said that they “strongly” oppose legalization, and 9% said that they “somewhat” oppose it, and 1% was unsure.

The poll also inquired about why those who oppose legalization choose to do so. “Among Granite Staters opposed to the bill (N=247), only 19% oppose it because they want to legalize recreational marijuana in another way while 75% oppose the bill because they do not want to legalize recreational marijuana at all,” the results stated. “Younger opponents of the bill and self-identified Democrats are more likely to want to legalize marijuana in another way while older opponents and Republicans are more likely to not want to see marijuana legalized at all.”

The House approved HB-1633 in April, and the Senate approved the bill in May before it was killed by the committee. This led to frustration on both sides, especially since in May 2023 Sununu said that he would sign a legalization bill if it contained certain restrictions. “During my years as Governor, a bill to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire has never garnered enough bipartisan support to reach my desk. I have never vetoed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana,” Sununu said at the time. “In 2017, I was proud to be the first Governor in New Hampshire history to sign legislation decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana so that no one would go to jail for simple possession. We expanded access to medical marijuana and provided a pathway to annul old convictions for marijuana possession.”

More recently in May, Sununu confirmed that his statement still stands. “I laid out the eight or 10 things that I’d like to see in that bill for it to get a signature on my desk,” Sununu told WMUR in an interview. “If they meet those stipulations, I’ll sign it. If they don’t, I won’t.”

Last week when the bill failed to pass, Rep. Jared Sullivan described the amended Senate version of the bill as “ugly” and “the most intrusive big-government marijuana program proposed anywhere in the country, one that ignores free market principles, will stifle innovation in an emerging industry and tie future generations of Granite Staters to an inferior model indefinitely.”

Sullivan also disagreed that the bill could be reapproached next year, referencing the House stance in opposition of having cannabis be a state-run franchise model. “Does anyone in here actually believe that we will be able to reel in a newly empowered government bureaucracy after they’ve spent millions of dollars?” said Sullivan. “Does anyone honestly believe it will be easy to pull back power from an unelected agency once they have it?”

Sen. Shannon Chandley spoke more positively about the bill to AP News. “This bill does address what the people of our state want,” Chandley said. “And besides being the will of the majority, it allows us to do what is really necessary, and that is to regulate.”

ACLU of New Hampshire executive director Devon Chaffee called out legislators on refusing to make choices based on their constituents. “Marijuana legalization is not just a political squabble about the economic benefits,” Chaffee said. “The war on marijuana has real-life impacts.”

Read the full article here

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