Statement

May 11, 2017

CONTACT:
Sheila Vargas
Direct: (603) 731-8051
Email: svargas@new-futures.org
Communications Director

NEW FUTURES STATEMENT REGARDING THE SENATE PASSAGE OF THE AMENDED VERSION OF
HB 640 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE PENALTIES FOR THE POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA

New Futures understands that marijuana poses a risk for children and those under the age of 26 whose brains and cognitive abilities are still developing. This is why New Futures worked to ensure that HB 640, which provides that possession of small amounts of marijuana should be a violation level offense, includes practical prevention focused reforms aimed primarily at children and youth.

HB 640 includes important provisions that will aid in the prevention of the use and abuse of marijuana while sensibly altering the penalties for the possession of less than ¾ oz. of this substance. This policy change does align with research which shows that enforcing criminal penalties is not the only means of reducing the use of marijuana, the use of any other substance or curbing the disease of addiction overall.

New Futures supports the following prevention provisions in HB 640:

         Allowing those under the age of 21 found in possession of the drug, to waive the fine if they undergo a substance use risk assessment.

         Designating fines to be used for substance misuse prevention programs.

         Creating a graduate fine for multiple offenses.

         Providing stricter penalties for the possession and negligent storage of marijuana concentrates or infused products.

These prevention and public health principles improve the bill as compared to past legislative efforts to “decriminalize” this substance. The relationship between perceived risk of harm from drug and alcohol use with the increased rates of drug use has been well established by public health researchers, as has the fact that today’s marijuana is far more potent than in the past. With the increase in accidental poisonings in other states, as well as the findings that the average THC in marijuana has dramatically increased from 4% - 6% to more than 15% and going as high as 95% in marijuana infused products, the impacts this substance has to public health are serious and should not be overlooked.

The risk assessment provisions found in HB 640 are opportunities for much needed prevention, intervention and treatment efforts among our youth and all who suffer with substance use disorder.

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New Futures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates, educates and collaborates to improve the health and wellness of all New Hampshire residents through policy change.