Testimony from:

Sarah Wall, Government Affairs Region Manager, Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Region, R Street Institute
In Support of House Bill 1348 – AN ACT relative to the legalization of a certain amount of cannabis.
March 2, 2022
House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Chair Abbas, Vice Chair Roy and Honorable Members of the Committee,

My name is Sarah Wall and I am the government affairs manager for the Northeast region at R Street Institute (R Street). R Street is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization focused on advancing limited, effective government in many policy areas, including criminal justice reform. Our Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties team researches and offers public policy solutions to a variety of state and federal issues, including police reform, reentry and overcriminalization, especially in reforming cannabis policy. Because House Bill 1348 would legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis for adults, thereby reducing the harmful impacts of overly punitive drug-related policies with the added benefit of fiscal soundness, R Street encourages the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to pass this legislation.

Specifically, HB 1348 would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, five grams of hashish, and two cannabis plants’ cultivation for adults 21 years and older. Under these provisions, cannabis can also be given, but not sold, to other adults. Selling cannabis, possessing quantities larger than those provided in HB 1348, or possession of any amount by a person under 21 years old would remain misdemeanors under state law. These moderate, sensible reforms recognize that cannabis, like alcohol, can be appropriate for adults’ limited consumption and regulated to benefit both residents and government. [1]

New Hampshire has already enacted strong policies that reduce the harmful impacts of marijuana criminalization, making medical marijuana legal and passing legislation in 2017 that decriminalized possession of ¾ ounce of cannabis by a person 21 years or older. [2] These are positive developments, but they do not go far enough to correct the punitive history of criminalization. It is important to note that poor and middle-class individuals are those least able to pay the fine and are also the most likely to be cited for cannabis use. [3] The history of criminalization and monetary fines have lasting collateral consequences, forestalling opportunities to pursue higher education, better employment or a new home—all of which risks increasing recidivism, including for more serious offenses. [4] Furthermore, studies have consistently found legalizing cannabis has no effect on crime rates; in fact, one study found legalizing medical cannabis in California was associated with a 20 percent plunge in certain offenses. [5]

Legalizing small amounts of cannabis would also be a boon to New Hampshire’s fiscal health. In 2021, the Colorado Department of Revenue reported $423 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales, breaking a new record. [6] Nationally, the $10.4 billion collected in tax revenue for legal cannabis sales has gone toward education, job training and conviction expungement expenses, among others. [7] In New Hampshire, similar “sin taxes” on alcohol, tobacco and gambling make up 23 percent of total tax revenue, tallying over $1 billion to state coffers. [8] Adding cannabis to this list would not only be familiar to Granite Staters, but could also allow New Hampshire to cut broader taxes, such as the property tax, which is currently the highest in the United States. [9]

By legalizing small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 years and older, New Hampshire would be joining the growing list of states reexamining the utility of cannabis criminalization: so far, 36 have legalized it for medicinal use, including New Hampshire, and half have legalized it recreationally as well. [10] Especially given the bill would only legalize small amounts of cannabis for personal recreational use, this legislation is a moderate step forward in recreational legalization. R Street urges this committee to report House Bill 1348 as ought to pass.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Wall
Government Affairs Region Manager
R Street Institute
[email protected]

[1] Jillian Snider and Diane M. Goldstein, “Republican Legislators Propose Marijuana Legalization at the Federal Level,” RealClearPolicy, Nov. 24, 2021. https://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2021/11/24/republican_legislators_propose_marijuana_legalization_at_the_federal_level_804997.html.

[2] “An Overview of New Hampshire’s Medical Cannabis Law,” Marijuana Policy Project, last accessed Feb. 24, 2022. https://www.mpp.org/states/new-hampshire/an-overview-of-new-hampshires-medical-marijuana-law; “Marijuana Decriminalization,” Citizens Count, 2022. https://www.citizenscount.org/issues/marijuana-decriminalization.

[3] Conor Friedersdorf, “Marijuana Laws Enforced, Poor Hit Hardest,” The Atlantic, Dec. 20, 2012. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/marijuana-laws-enforced-poor-hit-hardest/266490.

[4] “What are collateral consequences?” National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, last accessed Feb. 27, 2022. https://niccc.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/#:~:text=What%20are%20collateral%20consequences%3F,rights%2C%20benefits%2C%20and%20opportunities.

[5] Kyle Jaeger, “Impact Of Marijuana Legalization On Crime Reduction Is Being Underestimated, New Study Finds,” Marijuana Moment, Oct. 15, 2021. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/impact-of-marijuana-legalization-on-crime-reduction-is-being-underestimated-new-study-finds.

[6] Robert Davis, “Colorado Earned $423 Million In Marijuana Tax Revenue Last Year,” Marijuana Moment, Jan. 14, 2022. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/colorado-earned-423-million-in-marijuana-tax-revenue-last-year/#:~:text=Colorado%20brought%20in%20a%20record,Department%20of%20Revenue%20(DOR).

[7] Steve Gelsi, “Cannabis state tax revenue tops $10 billion from legal sales,” MarketWatch, Jan. 11, 2022. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/cannabis-state-tax-revenue-tops-10-billion-from-legal-sales-11641827815#:~:text=According%20to%20data%20from%20the,on%20beer%2C%20wine%20and%20spirits.

[8] Andrew Soergel, “New Hampshire Bets on Sin Taxes,” U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 25, 2019. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-10-25/new-hampshire-profits-most-from-sin-taxes.

[9] Rich States, Poor States, “Property Tax Burden,” The American Legislative Exchange Council, 2021. https://www.richstatespoorstates.org/variables/property_tax_burden/.

[10] Snider and Goldstein. https://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2021/11/24/republican_legislators_propose_marijuana_legalization_at_the_federal_level_804997.html.

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