Some NH Farmers Could Grow Pot Under Changes To Bill Backed in Senate Finance

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Medical Marijuana in NH

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Marijuana in a grow house.


CONCORD – New Hampshire agricultural growers could be able to have a piece of the action growing cannabis for the state after an amendment passed Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee.

It would allow for a minimum of five growers with New Hampshire experience to legally grow weed to sell here, under a controlled model favored by Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican who has signaled he sees a narrow path forward for legalization.

Last week, the full Senate took historic action for the first time to pass its first ever legal adult cannabis sales bill but the measure had to head to the Senate Finance Committee for passage.

It voted 4-3 Tuesday to recommend passage to the full Senate with this and other amendments including one to limit legal possession to two ounces for adults rather than the four ounces. Another change would be related to the effective date which would change to be after a retail license is issued, likely in 2025.

These all will become one change for a final vote to the full Senate, perhaps as early as this week.

The House passed a different version and this would need to return to that body for concurrence or establish a committee of conference before anything would reach the governor’s desk for signing or veto.

Sen. Howard Pearl, R-Loudon, whose family owns a 300-acre farm and has advocated for agricultural interests, offered the growers amendment saying he feels that there may be a few farms that would want to cultivate the product.

“I think having a minimum of five growers….giving the commission some guidance so that we don’t have a monopoly situation and keeping it the New Hampshire way,” would be best, said Pearl.

“This is mostly for indoor grow facilities. This is not going to be a crop you can grow out in a field,” he said citing security precautions and other considerations which would be around growing cannabis legally in the granite state.

Both Finance Committee Chair James Gray, R-Rochester and Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro voted to favor the changes but indicated they would not vote to legalize marijuana when it again comes to the Senate floor.

“This just makes it a better product,” said Bradley of the amendments he offered. He supported Pearl’s amendment as well.

Bradley, who is not seeking another term, has maintained he feels legal cannabis is inevitable and the Senate’s obligation is to make legalization better and safer through the legislation.

He said he spent time after the Senate voted to pass House Bill 1633 last Thursday to legalize it, on a vote of 14-9 with officials from the Municipal Association and the Liquor Commission which offered some changes to the bill that passed.

One would give the to-be created Cannabis Commission an operational fund of $250,000 a year in each of the next few years to help get that body going.

Another adds to training and educational requirements for licensees and one adds substances to a list that might need to be tested for purity in the cannabis product.

“I think we all can agree that we should have the best testing possible,” Bradley said.

Still another would allow the commission to sunset after five years, allowing the future legislature to do as they wish with the rules and makeup of the body.

The Senate Finance Committee also changed the bill to set the maximum amount of recreational marijuana in one’s possession from four ounces to two, matching up with what is currently allowed for medicinal use and allowable amounts in other states which have legalized adult cannabis sales. 

“So this is keeping out the gangs?” asked Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua. “Keeping Monsanto out of the business?” she asked.

Pearl said it ensures that the part of the grow at least is from the Granite State.

A copy of the bill is here

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