Cannabis Supporter Slams Senate Changes To House Bill as Issue Comes to a Head

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Tim Egan


CONCORD – A burning issue at the State House right now is over adult legalized cannabis sales as it all comes to a head now.

The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on a bill which is much different than the one the House sent them with lots more state control and restrictions, as is requested by the governor.

Overall, the Senate’s amendments are a huge change from what the House passed, and House members are likely to find them odious when they likely get them next week.

The House version would have legalized cannabis possession effective upon passage, this summer.

The Senate version with its amendment passed in the Finance Committee, Tuesday could delay legalizing possession until January 1, 2026.

The House version would also allow the establishment of “potency limits for cannabis products, after consultation with and approval of the cannabis advisory board including a public hearing specifically related to the topic of potency.” 

The Senate version would give the board the power to impose potency limits, in addition to them already having veto power over all rules governing the program and the body could be stacked with opponents, supporters of legalization claim.

The Senate Finance amendments added the commissioner of Agriculture, Markets, and Food to the commission and currently the commissioner is an ardent opponent of legalizing marijuana.

The amended version also allows for a minimum of five New Hampshire growers to be allowed to grow for the state-controlled sales. The bill requires all weed sold to be grown in the state. Currently, Vermont has almost 300 licensed growers and Maine, almost 100.

Tim Egan of the New Hampshire Cannabis Association is not pleased with changes made by State Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro claiming he is doing his utmost best to thwart efforts to make a free market legal weed in the “Live Free or Die” state.

Tuesday, Bradley said all his edits to the 70-plus page House bill on the subject are meant to make a “better product” with an eye toward safety, state oversight, avoidance of monopolies or out of state big money interests coming in.

But Egan, a former state representative from Sugar Hill, who represents the New Hampshire Cannabis Association, said Bradley “is doing all he can to make this bill worse” than what was amended by State Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem. 

Abbas crafted a new bill of sorts which checks the boxes Gov. Chris Sununu said he will support.

That bill, which passed the Senate last Thursday, 14-9 with an eye toward protecting harms, was an historic vote as the Senate has never approved legal weed. For the past five years or so, it has thumbs down House efforts to pass it.

Bradley broke out a fresh package of amendments Tuesday for Senate Finance, for which he serves. It was similar to last Thursday for the 14-9 vote. 

All of his new amendments were adopted in the Senate Finance Committee, Tuesday, 4-3. The voting now goes back to the full house, if it survives House Bill 1633 then goes back to the House. 

While not supporting legalization, Bradley said his duty is to get the law right, to get as he said “a good product.”

It was the last vote for the session by the Senate Finance Committee.

The work by Bradley, was not appreciated by Egan.

“His amendments are ridiculous,” he said. “He said he wants to ‘make it better’. Where is the ‘better?'” Egan asked.

One of Bradley’s amendments is to delay implementation from when it passes this spring to when a licensed shop opens.

That could be in 2025 or 2026.

Egan said Bradley is making it worse by delaying possession and consumption until retail is open. 

“That is just begging for people to keep buying out of the state. Where New Hampshire will lose revenue and entice those with poor judgment to buy, partake and drive home. He’s complicit in continuing the black market and negatively impacting public safety. Is that making society ‘better,’ ” he asked.

Egan also said the changes as suggested would be creating multiple wasteful layers of regulation with a commission. 

He said he wondered if it will create conflicts with the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission, the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, the state Department of Health and Human Services and other entities “all wondering who is in charge, who will make rules and worse off – creating a prohibitionist commission so that nothing gets done. Is that amendment making the legislation and government operations ‘better’?” Egan questioned.

“He’s making it worse by continuing to siphon off percentages of the revenue the state receives to his cronies in law enforcement and health care. Revenues that could have gone towards SWEPT (Statewide Education Property Tax) and reduce property taxes of every NH resident, those who buy cannabis or not,” he said.

He said the idea for the SWEPT aspect of the House version “was something that all House members applauded. 

In an email Tuesday night to he said “we still get to see what happens on the Senate Floor, so more ‘bettering’ to come.  Then he will return to the House, a Frankenstein style bill of mashed aspects, that the House won’t recognize. And this unrecognizable ‘better’ monster will run it out of town.  And again our Senate fails the people of NH.”

He noted that polls show almost 80 percent of New Hampshire adults want legalization.

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