Recreational weed isn’t legal in New Hampshire – yet.

Recreational weed isn’t legal in New Hampshire – yet.

Photo via Pexels

By Stacy Milbouer

November 2, 2023

In New Hampshire, you can only buy alcohol from tax-free, state-run liquor stores. In a few weeks, a special commission is supposed to release a proposal that might make it possible to buy recreational weed the same way—that is, if it ever becomes legal.

Medical marijuana was made legal in the state in 2013 for certain qualifying medical conditions. Five years later the state decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed. But even though nearly 70% of the state is in favor of legalization, New Hampshire remains the only New England state where it’s illegal. But that may change soon.

This summer, a mandated commission was formed to draft a law allowing the sale of recreational marijuana to adults 21 and up and to set up state-run weed dispensaries.

The commission includes state senators, House representatives, police officials, bankers and members of the State Attorney General’s office, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth (CADY), the New Hampshire Medical Society, and the ACLU.

Earlier in the year a House bill that would have made recreational marijuana legal and allowed commercial weed shops to open was defeated in the state senate–14 to 10. That bill passed the House, which has a record of supporting legalization, and voted 272-109 for the bill.

Legislators in favor of the bill argued that legalizing weed would allow New Hampshire to gain revenue lost to bordering states where it’s legal.

“We intend to undercut the price of legal cannabis in this region and to try to become the first state to wipe out the black market,” said Rep. Susan Almy, a Lebanon Democrat, according to an article by Ethan Dewitt of the New Hampshire Bulletin.

After that bill failed, Gov. Chris Sununu, who was once opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, said in a release that he now wants to legalize recreational weed “the right way.” He added that knowing a majority of the state supports legalization, “change is inevitable.”

He said that having the State Liquor Commission, which runs all of New Hampshire’s liquor stores, supervising state dispensaries would avoid “marijuana miles,” AKA densely concentrated marijuana shops within one city or town. 

“Any city or town that wants to ban shops,” he said, should be free to do so. “The state would not impose any taxes and should control all messaging, avoiding billboards, commercials, and digital ads that bombard kids on a daily basis.”

Sununu said he is willing to sign a law that legalizes weed with the provisions he’s proposed but warned he would veto a bill that doesn’t have those same provisions.

But the cannabis community doesn’t seem too pleased about making weed a state-run business, according to a recent article in Cannabutter Digest, especially farmers who don’t trust that they would financially benefit from a state-controlled system.


  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.


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