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New Hampshire Nears Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

by Kevin Hanlon March 07, 2019

On February 27, 2019, New Hampshire’s House gave preliminary approval to House Bill 481, which would legalize adult-use recreational marijuana in the state. The bill would also allow for an unlimited number of marijuana business licenses. The bill is currently being reviewed by the House Committee of Ways and Means. If it passes the House, it will then head to the New Hampshire Senate for approval. 

Representative Renny Cushing explained to New Hampshire Public Radio on February 21, 2019,  “The bill legalizes adult use of recreational marijuana, and it then sets up a mechanism for commercialization of cannabis,” he went on to add that the new legal framework for cannabis would be, “akin to how [New Hampshire] regulate[s] alcohol.”

A similar bill passed through New Hampshire’s House last year, but it failed to pass the then-Republican-controlled Senate. However, the Democrats, who added legalization to their party platform last year, currently control both the House and the Senate in New Hampshire.  

Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto the legislation, but Steve Shurtleff, the Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives, has stated that his chamber and the Senate likely have enough support to override it, which would mean the bill would pass into law without the Governor’s approval.

But how can a bill become a law without the Governor’s approval?

In New Hampshire, if a bill receives two-thirds approval from both the House and the Senate after it fails to receive the Governor’s signature of approval, that bill will still become a law, as under the New Hampshire Constitution, Article 44.

A similar set of circumstances occurred in Maine in 2018 when legislation to allow recreational marijuana was vetoed by Maine’s then-Governor Paul Le Page. After the Governor’s veto, the Maine legislature overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill and overrode the veto, passing the bill into law. 

New Hampshire’s HB 418 will perform 5 main functions:
  • Legalize adult-use of recreational marijuana;
  • Set up a mechanism for commercialization of cannabis;
  • Establish the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) under the Department of Health and Human Services that will implement rules and regulations to restrict and regulate cannabis;
  • Create a testing process; and
  • Provide licenses for cultivation, production, retail sales, transportation, and testing.

 

New Hampshire Marijuana Business Licensing Opportunities

If passed, the bill will establish a state-regulated dispensing system of licensed marijuana businesses. A Cannabis Control Division (Division) will be established to license the following marijuana businesses:

Cultivation Facility License – allows an entity to be registered (1) to cultivate, prepare, and package cannabis, and (2) sell cannabis to retail cannabis stores, to cannabis product manufacturing facilities, and to other cannabis cultivation facilities, but not to consumers.  

Product Manufacturing Facility License – allows an entity (1) to be registered to purchase cannabis, (2) to manufacture, prepare, and package cannabis products, and (3) sell cannabis and cannabis products to other cannabis product manufacturing facilities and to retail cannabis stores, but not to consumers.

Retail Store License – allows an entity (1) to be registered to purchase cannabis from cannabis cultivation facilities, (2) to purchase cannabis and cannabis products from cannabis product manufacturing facilities, and (3) to sell, transfer, and deliver cannabis and cannabis products to consumers.

Testing Facility License – allows an entity to be registered to test cannabis for potency and contaminants.  

Transporter License ­– allows an entity registered to transport cannabis between cannabis establishments.

 
Business Residency Requirement:

Except as provided in this section, any person applying for a cannabis establishment registration shall have been a resident, or shall have at least one director, officer, or partner who has been a New Hampshire Resident, for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of application.

Application Fee/ Annual License Fee:

An application fee is to be established by the Commission and a $500 fee for the municipality to review applications, except that the fee shall be $75 in the case of the smallest tier of cultivation facilities.

Additionally,

  • The application, registration, and annual renewal fees for the smallest tier of cultivation facilities may not exceed $250; and
  • All other registration and annual renewal fees shall not exceed $10,000, unless the commission determines a greater fee is necessary


New Hampshire Recreational Marijuana Program Timeline:

No later than March 1, 2020 – The Commission shall adopt rules for the registration, regulation, and taxation of cannabis cultivation facilities.

No later than May 1, 2020 –The Commission shall accept and process applications for cannabis cultivation facilities.

No later than June 1, 2020 –The Commission shall adopt rules for the the registration, regulation, and taxation of all other cannabis establishments and on the manufacture and sale of cannabis accessories.

No later than August 1, 2020 – The Commission shall accept and process applications for cannabis product manufacturing facilities, cannabis transporters, and cannabis testing facilities.

No later than September 1, 2020 – The Commission shall accept and process applications for retail cannabis stores.

 

Begin Preparing for New Hampshire Marijuana Business License Applications

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  • An Informational Overview of New Hampshire’s marijuana laws
  • An Application Guide & Checklist for a detailed summary and checklist of over 100 action items you'll need to complete before submitting your application
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  • Financial Plan Template to give you and your investors a comprehensive 3-year projection of what to expect when operating a medical marijuana business

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