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House committee recommends killing marijuana legalization bill


CONCORD -- The House Ways and Means Committee recommended on a 14-5 vote Tuesday that legislation legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 years of age and over should be killed by the full House.

The House gave the bill initial approval on Jan. 15 and referred it to the Ways and Means Committee for review of a proposed 15 percent sales tax on marijuana sales through a licensed retailer, which advocates said will generate $25-$30 million in revenue annually. The bill also calls for a $60 per ounce tax on cultivators.

Before rejecting the bill, the Ways and Means Committee adopted an amendment which legalization advocates said would simply the tax structure and regulate marijuana in a way similar to the way the state regulates alcohol.

If the bill again passes the House, it faces an uncertain fate in the state Senate. And, Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she would veto it.

But Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said, “Even with a negative recommendation, this thoughtful amendment will make it much more likely that the bill will receive continued support from the rest of the Legislature. We are optimistic that New Hampshire lawmakers will recognize that their constituents do not want to see adults arrested for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

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