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Marijuana Decriminalized In New Hampshire

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A new marijuana possession law went into effect on Sept. 16 in New Hampshire. 

Back in July, AOL News reported that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a law decriminalizing possession of marijuana within the state. Under the new law, individuals cannot be arrested for marijuana possession. 

Fines for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana have also been reduced to $100 for a first or second offense. According to Forbes, a third offense within a three-year period carries a fine of $300 and fourth-time offenders can be charged with a class B misdemeanor.

In the past, a first-time offender faced a criminal misdemeanor charge and could potentially face up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. 

According to the Bangor Daily News, all of the fines collected from citations for marijuana possession will go toward alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment. 

With this new law going into effect, New Hampshire has become the last state in New England to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state also becomes the 22nd state overall to decriminalize the drug, according to AOL News. 

"There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession," Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said in a press release, according to Forbes. 

Although possession has been decriminalized, the recreational purchase and use of marijuana in New Hampshire is still prohibited.  

According to a poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire's state legislature is also considering legalizing personal, recreational use of marijuana. The poll indicated that a total of 68 percent of adults in the state support marijuana legalization, with 49 percent strongly supporting it. 

The recreational use of the drug is currently legal in eight U.S. states, most of them in the western half of the country: California, Massachusetts, Maine, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Nevada. New Hampshire's fellow New England state of Vermont is also reportedly considering legalizing recreational use, according to AOL News.

According to Forbes, marijuana advocates are pushing for full legalization of the drug in New Hampshire and the regulation of its sales. 

"New Hampshire lawmakers should continue to follow their constituents’ lead on this issue," said Simon. "Every state in New England is either implementing or strongly considering legislation to regulate marijuana for adult use. It is time for the Legislature to develop a realistic marijuana prohibition exit strategy for New Hampshire."

Sources: Bangor Daily News, AOL News (2), Forbes, University of New Hampshire / Featured Image: Chris Yarzab/Flickr / Embedded Images: tanjilaahmed/Flickr, Sam Felder/Flickr

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