Until now, marijuana legalization in the United States has been accomplished through a patchwork of different ballot propositions. It’s been the only way that people have been able to circumvent entrenched politicians who are still opposed to the idea. Only marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana legalization have been legislated. That might change next year though. New Hampshire Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D) has thrown his support behind legalizing recreational marijuana. He’ll propose legislation in the coming year that would bring the state in line with its two neighbors Massachusetts and Maine who voted in favor of marijuana legalization propositions this year.
One politician’s support on its own wouldn’t actually be much of a development. That is, if you neglect to recall that marijuana legalization already passed the New Hampshire House back in 2014. Unfortunately, the bill never made it through the state Senate, but most of the politicians who supported it are still in office. There’s also been welcome change at the executive level. Newly elected Governor Chris Sununu (R) is much more open to the idea than his predecessor Maggie Hassan (D) who promised a veto. Sununu’s publicly backed marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana. While he’s presently opposed to full legalization, he has said that he’ll wait and see how the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Maine handle the issue.
With the support of both houses of the state legislature, and two of New Hampshire’s three border states moving forward, it will be difficult for Chris Sununu to justify opposing legalizing recreational marijuana. It will be even more difficult considering that their neighbor to the north is also moving forward with marijuana legalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it a central promise of his campaign in 2015. Trudeau claimed that legislation would be proposed within a year but that clock ran out this past November. Nonetheless, marijuana legalization advocates are hopeful that it is still on its way.
In addition, opinion polls have found that 60% of voters in the Live Free of Die state support recreational marijuana legalization. That number will only grow over the next four years as more states come on board. The Governor should support legalization because its the right thing to do. If not, he should at least support it for political reasons. If Chris Sununu wants to win reelection he’ll have to adapt his views to the times. He only won the Governorship by 17,000 votes this year with the Libertarian candidate Max Abramson taking 31,000. Supporting recreational marijuana legalization would be an easy way to bolster his chances and reduce the threat from a third party candidate.
With all that going for it, it’s more than likely that New Hampshire will be the first state to legislate marijuana legalization. Hopefully it will take place sooner rather than later and set an example for other states around the country that are facing the same predicament.