Between 2008 and 2012, 19,000 New Hampshirites were arrested for marijuana-related offenses. At the national level, the cost of marijuana prohibition is now $20 billion annually. We, at Tenn And Tenn, P.A., know that countless US citizens have seen their career prospects, livelihood and personal lives affected by marijuana-related arrests and charges. All the while, the same offense may be legal in a neighboring state, contributing to an unfavorable “patchwork” legal system, with minimal consistency or unifying logic. New Hampshire has joined the growing number of states who now actively consider the prospect of marijuana legalization. The state has established a dedicated panel to weigh the consequences and draft the provisions of the potential legislative shift.
Marijuana Legalization and New Hampshire’s Rate of Opioid Use – Related?
It is a loaded question for the Granite State, which has contended with a burgeoning opioid problem for years. US News and World Report characterized New Hampshire as “Ground Zero for Opioids,” citing the state’s “lack of treatment funding, rural context and high prescription rates” as contributing factors.
Firefighters in the state now carry Narcan, an overdose treatment drug, as part of their emergency gear. The rise in New Hampshire overdose cases has been attributed to fentanyl, a drug many times more potent than heroin. Although marijuana and fentanyl are drastically different substances with drastically different effects and associated hazards, one cannot help but position the two together when weighing the question of marijuana legalization. If the state lifts the marijuana prohibition, it will effectively put an end to arrests and charges for victimless marijuana-related crimes. In fact, a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the number of opioid-related deaths in Colorado began to drop, after recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in 2014. This six percent decline is preliminary but promising, and exceptionally relevant in a state with the unique challenges New Hampshire has faced.
The New Hampshire Marijuana Legalization Commission
The state has assembled a commission to study the potential effects of legalization, with regard to regulation and taxation. The commission is especially interested in the effect of legalization on the education system, as they are trying to gather data about the rate of school suspensions for marijuana possession after the drug’s legalization in Colorado. New Hampshire looks to Colorado for guidance in this matter, in more ways than one. The commission recently heard testimony from Andrew Freedman, the former director of marijuana coordination for Colorado, who emphasized that there was not a huge shift in children’s ability to gain access to the drug after it was legalized.
Some argue that the only thing marijuana prohibition successfully prohibits is effective regulation and taxation. Tax revenue from marijuana sales could be channeled into substance abuse treatment to address New Hampshire’s opioid problem, hitting two birds with one stone, if you will. Furthermore, marijuana-related convictions make it more difficult for New Hampshirites to secure gainful employment.
While legislators continue to weigh the pros and cons of legalization, New Hampshire citizens are arrested every month for marijuana-related offenses, despite many of these crimes having no victim. Until lawmakers reach their conclusion, marijuana remains illegal in the state and anyone who has been charged will require skilled legal counsel to handle their charges, and defend their rights. If you have been charged, do not hesitate to contact the New Hampshire criminal defense attorney team at Tenn And Tenn, P.A., or call us at (888) 332-5855 immediately for a free consultation.