In the final week of the New Hampshire gubernatorial race, incumbent first-term governor Chris Sununu maintains his stance against legalizing cannabis.
This news comes as a bit of surprise to voters concerned about cannabis issues, considering that a commission of lawmakers and various stakeholders appointed by Gov. Sununu is due to publish a report on the study of cannabis legalization five days before the state election.
Using Colorado as an example, Gov. Sununu claimed, somewhat erroneously that the legalization of recreational cannabis use has created unanticipated consequences for that state.
“You have the issue that black market marijuana is at an all-time high in Colorado right now,” Gov. Sununu said to the New Hampshire based Seacoast Media Group’s editorial board last Friday. “Because [drug dealers] always try to undercut whatever the market is.”
“When that happens,” Gov. Sununu stated, “You’ve created this culture that it’s OK but nobody knows what they’re buying.”
Monetary motives behind cannabis legalization
Gov. Sununu also pointed out that the effort to legalize marijuana use is all about money.
“Recreational marijuana is just big tobacco 2.0,” Gov. Sununu said. “It is a multi-multi-billion dollar business that’s trying to wedge its way into American culture.”
Legislative attempts to allow recreational marijuana stalled in the New Hampshire government earlier this year; however, possession of small amounts marijuana—approximately three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish—is now a mere violation, punishable by up to $100 in fines.
Gov. Sununu’s opponents in the general election—Democrat Molly Kelly and Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis —both support legalizing marijuana. Cannabis makes a brief appearance on both respective gubernatorial candidates’ websites, with statements supporting the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Candidate Kelly states on her website that it is high “Time for New Hampshire to join other New England states in legalizing, regulating, and generating revenue from marijuana.”
A net gain for New Hampshire?
Preliminary reports on the draft of the study on the legalization of recreational cannabis use indicate that New Hampshire might make up to $57 million per fiscal year on marijuana taxation.
Gov. Sununu told the Seacoast Media Group that it was “Terrible that the Democratic Party has taken this as a platform position. I think that’s an incredibly irresponsible thing to do.”
The 17-member commission met 26 times throughout the year and will issue its final report on November 1.
Draft recommendations reportedly touch on proper cannabis regulations, licensing protocols, and taxation requirements, but deliver no final judgment on the major marijuana issue of legalization.
“We’re not going to make a recommendation whether or not the state should legalize,” State Representative and member of the commission David Bates told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “That was not in the charge [to the commission]. We talked about it a number of times and agreed it’s really not our place to decide that. This has been a data collection exercise.”
While the report may lack a definitive conclusion as to marijuana’s legal status in New Hampshire, voters can be certain that Gov. Sununu will continue to say no to marijuana, no matter how much money his state may make from it.