By BEVERLY STODDART, InDepthNH.org
The Senate House Ways and Means Committee took up HB1598 on Wednesday and looked at the proposal brought to the legislature for a state-run liquor store model to sell adult-use cannabis by Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem.
Abbas, the bill’s prime sponsor, spoke about the number of times he vetoed other bills for adult-use cannabis. He testified that the bill he introduced would work to mitigate social impacts in New Hampshire communities. Revenue would be used to offset the income tax. While he feels the field sobriety test is a problem that needs to be fixed, he feels HB1598 is a concession of state-run versus an overflow model.
The nearly three-and-a-half-hour meeting saw a variety of those against the bill, including Chief John Bryfonski, Chief of Police in Bedford, who said the “cart is well ahead of the horse” with this bill.
Keenan Blum, president, and CEO of Prime Alternative Treatment Centers, said he supports legalizing cannabis but not 1598 in its current form. “It may produce revenue but at a cost to the therapeutic cannabis in the state.”
After numerous testimonies had been heard, Chairman Bob Giuda, R-Warren, closed the hearing and moved the proceedings to the executive session. The committee voted unanimously to adopt the committee report to ITL, inexpedient to legislate or kill the bill.
Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, said she supports those opposed to the bill. “This doesn’t do what New Hampshire should move forward with.” Her constituents were disappointed the bill did not include edibles. She felt that there were “too many questions received that do not make it fixable for those who want to make marijuana legalized in this state.”
While supporting killing the bill, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, does support legalization. Her concerns included the liquor commission’s ability to take on another responsibility. She added, “This bill is not fixable today.”
“I think this is a poorly drafted bill,” said Vice Chairman Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester. “The ability to actually implement this doesn’t exist.” He said he is opposed to marijuana and that we must deal with its ramifications.
Giuda ended by talking about how child advocacy organizations and police forces across the country have had to deal with the consequences of liberalization of the use of illicit drugs.