**Can You Smoke Weed in Public in New Hampshire? **
Medical marijuana in New Hampshire is legal, while recreational cannabis is decriminalized but still illegal. The state is yet to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes because it considers it a restrictive, illegal substance. Besides, opponents of cannabis legalization in New Hampshire have consistently cited concerns over public safety as their reasons for opposing adult-use marijuana in the state.
New Hampshire legalized medical cannabis in 2013 after the passage of House Bill 537 (HB 537). Although restrictive, HB 537 established certain qualifying medical conditions that make a person/patient eligible for medical marijuana in New Hampshire. Besides being diagnosed with these qualifying conditions, a patient must exhibit severe symptoms to qualify for medical cannabis under HB 537. In 2017, New Hampshire decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis, a step that removed a jail sentence for possessing up to 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana. However, possessing over 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana is still a criminal offense, and anyone caught with cannabis more than three times within a three-year period risks criminal charges.
Yes. However, a person can only use cannabis for medicinal purposes in New Hampshire. Cannabis is a plant with psychoactive properties that can be used for medicinal and recreational purposes. It contains over 100 active components known as cannabinoids, the most abundant being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the major psychoactive component in cannabis that is responsible for intoxication and the reason cannabis has been historically illegal. People often abuse it to get "high," an act believed to instigate them to commit crimes. Although CBD is also psychoactive, it is non-intoxicating like THC and is believed to offer various health benefits. Over the years, people have called cannabis different names, including marijuana, pot, weed, ganja, and grass.
Under HB 537, persons diagnosed with the following debilitating and terminal medical conditions and showing severe symptoms can use medical marijuana in New Hampshire:
Although New Hampshire has decriminalized the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis, it prohibits the recreational use of cannabis. A person under 18 caught with marijuana in New Hampshire could be taken to juvenile court.
In 2013, HB 537 legalized the use of medical marijuana in New Hampshire, although restrictive. The law specified certain qualifying medical conditions for patients to be eligible for medicinal cannabis. While HB 537 prohibits home-grown cannabis, it permits the sale of medical marijuana by dispensaries and possession (with limits) of medical cannabis. HB 537 also set the requirements for the state's medical marijuana cards. In 2021, Governor Sununu signed HB 89, which added two new medical conditions, moderate to severe insomnia and autism spectrum disorder to the list of qualifying medical conditions for the therapeutic use of marijuana.
The governor also signed HB 605 into law in 2021. This legislation included opioid use disorder in the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use. The law also made provisions for out-of-state medical cannabis patients to legally purchase and possess marijuana in the state as long as they present their medical marijuana cards and only buy up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower. This provision of the law only came to effect in June 2023 when the Director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced the commencement of medical marijuana reciprocity.
In the past, several bills have been introduced to legalize recreational marijuana in New Hampshire. Introduced in January 2021, HB 629 sought to permit the possession of certain cannabis-infused products and the home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants. However, the bill died in April 2022 at the Senate Judiciary Committee as it was considered inexpedient to legislate.
A bill to legalize the possession and use of recreational cannabis by adults 21 years and older in New Hampshire, HB 1598, was also introduced in January 2022. It aimed at establishing a state monopoly on cannabis sales but failed to pass at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also, HB 1348, which sought to legalize the possession and home cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 years and over, was introduced in January 2022. However, the bill died at the table of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in March 2022. While it would not establish a regulated market, HB 1348 would have removed penalties for possessing up to 5 grams of hashish, 1 ounce of cannabis, and six cannabis plants for persons at least 21 years old.
While recreational cannabis is still illegal in New Hampshire, House Bill 537 permits the sale of medicinal marijuana in the state. New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), through the Therapeutic Cannabis Program, oversees and regulates medical cannabis in the state. The Therapeutic Cannabis Program issues cannabis registry identification cards to eligible patients with qualifying medical conditions and medical marijuana caregivers. Per SB 162, registered patients and caregivers with these cards can buy therapeutic cannabis from any of New Hampshire's licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), otherwise known as dispensaries, chosen during registration.
In New Hampshire, registered medical marijuana patients can purchase and possess up to 2 ounces of medicinal cannabis or cannabis products, including hash and concentrates, within a 10-day period. Patients and caregivers must not possess more than 2 ounces (combined) at a time. It is illegal for a medical marijuana patient in New Hampshire to purchase marijuana paraphernalia. The state considers the possession or sale of paraphernalia a misdemeanor. The delivery of medical cannabis in New Hampshire is available, implying that patients or caregivers must purchase cannabis or cannabis products in person at their registered ATCs.
New Hampshire decriminalized cannabis in 2017 and ceased to award a jail sentence for possessing small amounts (up to 3/4 ounces) of marijuana. The following are the various penalties for marijuana-related crimes in New Hampshire, depending on the type of offense:
Possession of up to 3/4 ounces of marijuana by someone 18 years or older for a first and second offense is a civil violation with a maximum penalty of $100. For the third offense, within three years of the first offense, an individual may be fined up to $300. A fourth offense within three years of the first is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence with an option of up to a $1,200 fine
Possession of over 3/4 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor that attracts a maximum of 12 months jail sentence and a maximum cash fine of $350
In New Hampshire, marijuana cultivation offense is treated as cannabis sales and possession. Hence, marijuana cultivation offense attracts sales and possession penalties based on the weight of marijuana plants caught with an individual.
Marijuana Sale or Possession with Intent to Distribute
The sale of marijuana in New Hampshire is considered a felony, and the penalties are listed below:
For a first offense, selling less than 1 ounce of cannabis attracts a maximum jail time of 3 years and a maximum fine of $25,000. A subsequent offense is punishable by a maximum of $50,000 fine and a maximum of six years jail sentence
The sale of between 1 ounce and 5 pounds of marijuana for a first offense is a felony punishable by a maximum of seven years of incarceration and a $100,000 maximum. An offender risks a maximum jail sentence of 15 years and a maximum of $200,000 fine for a subsequent offense
Selling 5 pounds or more of marijuana for a first offense is punishable by up to a $300,000 fine and a maximum jail time of 20 years. A subsequent offense attracts a maximum of 40 years of incarceration and up to a $500,000 fine
Anyone caught selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school zone in New Hampshire faces double marijuana sale penalties depending on the weight of the cannabis
The Sale or Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia
Selling or possessing marijuana paraphernalia in New Hampshire is considered a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to $2,000 fine and a maximum of 12 months jail sentence.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana
It is a criminal offense punishable by severe penalties under state law to drive under the influence of marijuana in New Hampshire.
Marijuana-related crimes in New Hampshire may also lead to the confiscation of assets. For instance, if a person under 21 is convicted of the possession or sale of marijuana, they face revocation/denial of their driver's license (application) or denial of driving privilege for between 90 days and one year. Similarly, an under-18 convicted of possession with intent to sell cannabis or cannabis sale risks the suspension or denial of their driver's license or driving privilege for between one year and five years.
Marijuana remained banned in New Hampshire until 2013, when the state approved limited medical marijuana through House Bill 537 (HB 537). Between 1997 and 2013, several House Bills were legislated to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, but they all died at one point or another. Among these bills were the following:
New Hampshire is the 19th state in the U.S. to permit medical cannabis. HB 537 identified a list of medical conditions that qualified a patient for medical marijuana and established the requirements for medical marijuana cards to allow qualifying patients access to medical cannabis. It also set the possession limits of medical marijuana to a maximum of 2 ounces per 10-day period.
Several bills were also presented to decriminalize marijuana or legalize it for recreational purposes in New Hampshire between 2013 and 2017. These include:
In 2017, New Hampshire decriminalized marijuana and eliminated jail sentences for the possession of small amounts (up to 3/4 ounce) of cannabis. After decriminalization, this offense became a civil violation that attracts a $100 penalty for a first and second offense, while a third offender risks a $300 fine. There have been several marijuana legalization attempts since 2017, but they all failed. The most recent were HB 629, HB 1598, and HB 1348.
The following are some of the restrictions on cannabis in New Hampshire: