Legalizing pot poses big issues. A handful of states allow recreational weed. Will New Hampshire be next?
New Hampshire lawmakers asked a study commission to look into a broad range of issues. On November 1, 2018 the 17-member group released a report looking at issues raised by legalized weed.
During the one-year study the commission spoke with people from the eight states that have legalized marijuana. They asked what works and what does not.
Legal marijuana could raise $57 million in revenue for New Hampshire’s state budget. But even so, is that significant?
Others ask whether legalized marijuana will cause more car accidents. Do police have the right tools to enforce existing laws against driving impaired.
Will New Hampshire Legalize Marijuana?
No one knows whether the Granite State will legalize recreational cannabis. But, the commission spent a year looking at numerous issues raised. They made 54 recommendations as to what the state should do IF pot is legalized. Among the recommendations:
- Recreational users age 21 or older.
- Sales limited to no more than one ounce per person.
- No marijuana sales businesses within 1,000 feet of a school.
- Penalize sale of vaping devices, liquid or accessories to minors.
- Marijuana sold only in tamper proof, child proof, and resealable packaging.
- Marijuana sales businesses must register with Secretary of State and comply with safety & health regulations.
- Smoking or vaping weed banned in all public places indoors or outdoors.
- No promotional giveaways of marijuana products.
- “Seed to Sale” tracking system mandated on marijuana sale businesses.
- Tax sale of one ounce of cannabis “between $23.00 and $56.00”.
- “Cannabis Commission Advisory Board” set up to oversee & deal with multiple issues with legalized weed. Also a “Cannabis Commission” would license, regulate, enforce and research the impacts of legalization.
We invite your comments. Please send your thoughts to us in the “LEAVE A REPLY” box at the bottom of this blog article.
What About Driving High?
The report points out that right now, no roadside test like the breathalyzer exists to prove weed impairment. Experts disagree on what level of cannabis proves a driver as being impaired. Developers say they’re close to coming up with a test. One approach detects THC levels from smoked cannabis. The problem facing researchers is that THC only remains in a smoker’s breath for one to two hours after smoking. A breath test fails if the impaired driver enjoyed an edible pot treat.
With no certified approved test device, the marijuana commission pointed out courts face evidence problems. Courts also struggle with the unanswered question as to what level of THC makes up legal impairment. Those problems though are not the end of the world. When it comes to suspected drunk drivers, conviction rates are the same whether a breathalyzer was used or not.
Legalizing Pot and Accidents
Law enforcement generally dislikes the idea of legal pot. The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police opposes legalization of marijuana. The group says legalization sends the wrong message to youth, and that states where pot is legal have seen adverse effects.
The New Hampshire Pot Commission cited a 2014 Washington State study on fatal car accidents and marijuana. That state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 8 percent to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
“One in six Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana”.
Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among Drivers in Fatal Crashes: Washington, 2010-2014. NH Study – Page 65.
Workplace Challenges in Legalizing Pot
Among other issues the commission found if pot is legalized in New Hampshire is a dilemma faced by employers. On one hand, federal law mandates a drug free work place. Failing to do so brings penalties under OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The Drug Free Work Place Act of 1988 also includes harsh penalties for employers failing to comply.
On the other hand, tests existing at this time give employers no clear guidance. THC stays in urine for days after only a single ingestion of pot. Regular or “chronic” users can test positive for up to 30 days. Does that mean they can’t be legally employed even when not high? Of course not but multiple issues like this require close examination according to the commission.
Legalizing Pot Good for State Budgets?
The Commission estimates pot sales could bring $57 million in revenue to New Hampshire’s state budget. Wait a minute, the fiscal 2019 total New Hampshire state budget adds up to $11.7 billion. Pot revenue would represent less than one-half of one percent of funds needed to support New Hampshire state spending.
Colorado, where legal pot laws are often praised by supporters, now has experience making money from pot sales. How much? In the final pages of the NH Commission report Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper admits that marijuana tax revenues in that state represented about nine-tenths of one percent of Colorado’s 2017 budget.
Legalizing Pot: What do we call it?
We’re talking here not about medicinal use of THC, but about leisure time non prescription use of what some call the evil weed. Don’t like those terms? The NH Study Commission debated terminology, finding four different names for what we’re talking about:
- Adult Use Marijuana
- Recreational Marijuana
- Regulated Marijuana
- Non-Medical Marijuana
The report explains no consensus formed around any one term. Some members felt the term “recreational marijuana” sent a bad message to young people. New York State uses the term regulated marijuana, but members thought that could be confusing because medical marijuana is in fact regulated. No agreement emerged as to what words to use.
The commission did point out that:
“Marijuana is a slang term for cannabis which gained popularity in the early to mid-1900s. The scientific name is cannabis.”
Commission Report – Page 14.
The recommendation calls for any law passed to refer to marijuana by its scientific name, cannabis.
Legalizing Pot: State by State
Even in states where adult non-medical pot use is allowed, problems arise because marijuana is illegal under federal law. The problems include opening a bank account for a pot business. Banks must comply with federal law. Opening a bank account for a marijuana business remains illegal even in pro-pot states.
The commission studied many issues. Such issues include vaping and keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors. Also, if lawmakers legalize pot, should old convictions for pot use be wiped off the books?
Your thoughts? Feel free to post your feelings about this subject in the “LEAVE A REPLY” box below.
This article was authored by attorney Andrew D, Myers, a personal injury attorney with offices in Derry, New Hampshire and North Andover, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit: Zoe Collazo, model
Note: no illegal substances were used in creating the photo used in this blog.
Final Report: Commission to Study the Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana, November 1, 2018. Link