New Hampshire legislature “endorses” legalized marijuana; Update: Appeals court upholds federal jurisdiction on pot

posted at 8:41 am on January 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Bad news for Mary Katharine, and good news for Fox viewers: we may get Weed Shoutfest III in the near future. The New Hamphire state legislature narrowly endorsed a bill yesterday that would legalize marijuana for recreational use, following the model pioneered by Colorado. The vote in this case was bipartisan — and contentious — but don’t start toking up yet in the Granite State:

After a passionate debate, the New Hampshire House of Representatives endorsed a bill Wednesday that would legalize marijuana in the state.

The vote was a nail-biter, with closely divided legislators initially voting against legalization 170-168 before choosing to vote again, the second time approving legalizing pot with 170 votes.

The bill, HB 492, would decriminalize possession of one ounce of marijuana by adults age 21 or older and allow residents to grow up to six plants. State-licensed stores would be authorized to sell marijuana.

After preliminarily endorsing the measure, lawmakers referred it to a second House committee, the Ways and Means Committee, for further refinement.

There are a couple of points here that will harsh the mellow of libertarians cheered by this development. First, as the story notes, this doesn’t mean that the bill has actually passed yet. It has to go back to committee and then return to the floor for a final vote. The slender two-vote margin for endorsement is a fragile majority, and the initial skepticism of the bill will no doubt increase when legislators see the final product. Those who switch from endorsement to opposition can always claim to support the idea in principle while claiming that the proposed execution of the idea was too flawed to support in the end, and I’d be surprised if that impulse is only limited to one or two legislators.

Second, the governor already has declared she’ll veto the bill if it passes:

Supporters hope that renewed attention on the issue from Washington and Colorado legalizing the drug might make a difference in New Hampshire. But Gov. Maggie Hassan said Monday she would veto any such bill.

Less than six months ago, Hassan signed a bill allowing the medical use of marijuana.

“But I don’t support the decriminalization of marijuana any further, and I would veto it if it comes to my desk,” she said.

Even if the 170-168 majority is sustained for approval, it’s far short of a veto override. Don’t think Hassan’s office isn’t working the phones to avoid having to impose the veto, either. It’s safer politically to keep it from coming to her desk.

Besides, from a strategic standpoint, what’s the rush? Colorado already got the headlines for going first. Other state legislatures inclined to follow suit have a better option in waiting. Why not let the experiment in the Rockies play out for a little while? If things go bad in Colorado, then all they have to do is take no action at all. Even if it turns out to be a net positive, other states will be able to better craft legalization legislation to avoid any problems that do arise.

As an apertif, here’s the video from Steven Crowder last year on the marijuana debate. Steven argues that there is a valid argument for getting the federal government out of marijuana prohibition, but rebuts the argument that pot is harmless or less harmful than alcohol – as well as provides an entertaining bit of vox populi from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Whether you agree or not, it’s good for another look and another laugh. At least no one’s yelling in this one:

Update: I missed this from yesterday, but Gabriel Malor didn’t:

An appeals court Wednesday affirmed the federal government’s long-standing policy that California medical marijuana dispensaries have no protection under state law from drug prosecutions.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that three California dispensaries, their customers and their landlords are barred from using a state law allowing marijuana use with a doctor’s recommendation as a shield from criminal charges and government lawsuits. All uses of marijuana are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, also known as the CSA, even in states that have legalized pot.

The ruling upholds three lower court decisions and follows previous rulings by federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other words, federal law on this point — the Controlled Substances Act — trumps state law, even for “medicinal” marijuana. That doesn’t mean the DoJ will start pressing federal charges in California or Colorado, which they seem disinclined to do at the moment.  But they can.


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CO and NH are NOT in fact attacking the problem that William F Buckley addresses with legalization.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 12:56 PM

No. They are doing it in a way that Bill Buckley himself was unable to do.

They are winning elections.

Which, given the Tenth Amendment, puts them in the driver’s seat. Which is only undermined when “conservatives” use the infinitely elastic Commerce Clause to justify the War on Drugs.

And it is one thing to do it when you support prohibition. But to do so when you oppose prohibition, is just stupid, whether you agree with the tactics or not…

JohnGalt23 on January 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM

harlekwin, I definitely have to go with you on this one. Libertarians are too small a group (although leaners could be a larger group) to accomplish this. Conservatives too “hung up”. So analysis would indicate liberals are the bulk of this.

You think that people who have pilloried tobacco, wanted to regulate and at times prosecute “second-hand smoke”, stated a goal of zero smokers for a filtered burning plant, and forced smokers out into the cold of winter–and even are speculating whether to ban the tarless version–would look suspicious being okay with unfiltered burning plant matter with 5 times the tar and nicotine.

You think that level of disingenuousness would alarm somebody.

As much as I have read the parade of “Cannibis Achievers”, my skepticism is that the net affect of pot will be to 1) create an environment that endorses its use, and 2) create more users who can’t handle the effects.

Liberals are about minting a constituency these days. They will import it or enable it as they can. Even any number of libertarians are convinced that liberals are shooting for a majoritarian dependent class. They just have too much confidence in their own ability to handle intoxicants, and seem incapable of even looking at the net effect.

I like Jon Stossel. But when he had “The Independents” on and as a group they were running over the “balance sheet of freedom”, they actually said that freedom was on the rise in states considering the legalization of pot.

Yeah, right.

Axeman on January 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Yeah, right.

Axeman on January 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Correct, the Libertine left forgets who they run with the indulgent and non long-game thinking libertarian right says “well the Libertines will learn to allow other liberty.”

They are wrong, the 1st Republican state that legalizes pot, I am looking at you Alaska have at it now don’t let me down, is going to find out quickly that suddenly the DEA and DoJ are keenly interested in pushing the issue.

I’ll just be sipping my iced tea enjoying the show.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM

The war on marijuana is pointless. Better to know who is doing it and make a profit than have people go behind your backs. It doesn’t matter what happens people will want to get high. It’s their business.

RDE2010 on January 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM

I like Jon Stossel. But when he had “The Independents” on and as a group they were running over the “balance sheet of freedom”, they actually said that freedom was on the rise in states considering the legalization of pot.

Yeah, right.

Axeman on January 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

“Freedom”…

like Shale on public lands with a guaranty in CO?

Well “no”…

“Freedom”

Like the right to association with persons of your choosing in California?

Yeah the Libertine left does not want freedom they want license form the predatory state they favor.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:12 PM

The war on marijuana is pointless. Better to know who is doing it and make a profit than have people go behind your backs. It doesn’t matter what happens people will want to get high. It’s their business.

RDE2010 on January 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Expand the regulatory state and add an additional revenue stream to big government.

AWESOME!

Murphy9 on January 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

The war on marijuana is pointless. Better to know who is doing it and make a profit than have people go behind your backs. It doesn’t matter what happens people will want to get high. It’s their business.

RDE2010 on January 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Ah, the war on POT is useless, not the war on drugs….”interesting.”

So since Galt above says “unlike Buckley dude pppuffff we got the votes man.”

You’ll get no argument from me that after tobacco, alcohol, and arguably caffeine pot is the most abused intoxicant…

so having disincentivized the potsmoker Libertine Democrats from having to fear leviathan “sometimes” b/c the NH CO et al method is not really “a fix” at the federal level what incentive does Donkey Libertine now have to address ANY of the structural problems and powers that the Feds use to wage the war on drugs and the rise of the predatory “search warrants for profit!” Law Enforcement community?

Yeah exactly….

so now we are going to steeplechase legalization and reduction of the SuperState’s ill-gotten powers one herbal remedy at a time rather than have a grown-up conversation as a nation on liberty.

Got it.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Expand the regulatory state and add an additional revenue stream to big government.

AWESOME!

Murphy9 on January 16, 2014 at 1:13 PM

EXACTLY, which is what they are doing with E-cigs….

I get it…this is the Libertine Left using the language of Libertarianism to get the right to help them get their cookie.

I’ve seen this movie before with the betrayal of civil unions by Gay leftist radicals eventually undermining our libertarians and Log Cabiner’s fidelity to Religious Liberty.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Get Rand the nomination, and the Paulestinians will walk those precincts. Bet your bottom dollar on it…

JohnGalt23 on January 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

sure they will…

Hey Luap Nor Cultist how do you like our soon to be 18 trillion in simple debt you enabled?

but hey you got your smoke on baby.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM

The nature of Liberty, the harm associated with THC, and the perceived decline of morality in America notwithstanding, I asked a simple question, in response to the claim that the USG hasn’t legalized cannabis yet:

Perhaps you would share with us what in the US Constitution, in your opinion, gives the US Government the authority to make possession, manufacture, transportation and trafficking of cannabis illegal in the first place…?

JohnGalt23 on January 16, 2014 at 9:20 AM

The only response I have gotten (as I suspect it really is the only thing prohibitionists have to hang there hat on) is the Commerce Clause. All the high handed talk of morality and low handed talk of Stoner Left aside, the only answer I’ve gotten is “Commerce Clause”.

Which just happens to be the fallback position of just about every Leftist authoritarian, also.

Imagine that.

NH is discussing growing cannabis in NH, for sale in NH, for consumption in NH, and NH alone. To cite the Commerce Clause in opposition to this is to necessarily accept Wickard v Filburn.

Which ought to be like pro-lifers using Roe v Wade o bolster an argument. When you start doing that, you undermine the pro-life cause.

When you start using Wickard to justify the War on Drugs, just because you happen to favor the War on Drugs, you undermine federalism. Which, to me, is a necessary component of conservatism…

JohnGalt23 on January 16, 2014 at 11:15 AM

The Commerce Clause is the authority. The question is how well it applies. If you could guarantee that no pot crossed state boundaries at any time, you could argue federalism. But it’s foolish to lose sight of the fact that pot is just one of a whole pile of harmful drugs, which are normally called “controlled substances.” They are controlled for good reasons, because they are great tools when used properly, but can very easily be abused.

You may have stumbled onto the single best case to be made for far-reaching Commerce Clause powers.

Frankly, the cause of marijuana legalization is just too trivial to get me worked up. There’s a lot that’s wrong with the whole “War on Drugs” business, but the basic desire of the potheads is not to remove the barriers against illegal drugs, but to make sure that their drug of choice is on the inside of the barrier, not the outside.

Not a burning issue of the day.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 16, 2014 at 2:52 PM

In other words, federal law on this point — the Controlled Substances Act — trumps state law, even for “medicinal” marijuana. That doesn’t mean the DoJ will start pressing federal charges in California or Colorado, which they seem disinclined to do at the moment. But they can.

Uh, if that were the case, there wouldn’t be a case for the court to review in the first place. Now, maybe DOJ /DEA has SINCE stopped pursuing such cases, but I really have no confidence that is actually the case. The DOJ / DEA / local and state law enforcement get a solid amount of their SWAT budget through the drug war, so they aren’t about to let some mamby pamby state medical or recreational marijuana statuute get in their way.

deadrody on January 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Ah, the war on POT is useless, not the war on drugs….”interesting.”

No, the whole “war on drugs” is a complete waste and failure.

But good lord, look at the vehement opposition from some for legalizing a weed that grows out of the ground on its own. The idea that anyone is going to pursue anything beyond that in the near term is a ridiculous proposition.

deadrody on January 16, 2014 at 3:02 PM

I get it…this is the Libertine Left using the language of Libertarianism to get the right to help them get their cookie.

harlekwin15 on January 16, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Dude, you gotta be careful in the metaphors you use – you’re gonna distract the mj proponents……

GWB on January 16, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Can’t the federal government just amend the list of drugs or does that take a 2700 page comprehensive piece of legislation. Oorrr, President Choom can just poof it away. He likes to do that anyway.

Cindy Munford on January 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I believe that it would take an act of Congress. The Controlled Substances Act lists it as an drug easily abused so the Act may have to be amended to make it legal.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM

GWB on January 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

…almost all my relatives live in the Netherlands…none of them smoke pot!…it is very accessible there!

KOOLAID2 on January 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I’m not sure how that relates to my comment. The only reason I mentioned Rotterdam was because it was the first place I knew I encountered mj aroma. All I know is… peeeewww! It was coming out of a club, I believe, above street level. And, yeah, totally legal (or tolerated).

Personally, I’m not a fan of mj, but I’m also a big fan of freedom (and federalism). I would love to see most things decriminalized, but it can’t happen with our current culture without some bad consequences. Adams was right when he said a democratic republic would only work with a moral people. Our culture is now at a point where I doubt it can continue to sustain a democratic republic.

I guess it’s time to link this in relation to the mj debate. :)

GWB on January 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM

I believe that it would take an act of Congress. The Controlled Substances Act lists it as an drug easily abused so the Act may have to be amended to make it legal.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Or just a pen and a phone….

Axeman on January 16, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Depending upon this weekend’s outcome, we could have the Pothead Bowl (AKA Super Bowl) come February 2.

Denver v Seattle – both states legalized weed.

Far out, man!

ya2daup on January 16, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Depending upon this weekend’s outcome, we could have the Pothead Bowl (AKA Super Bowl) come February 2.

Denver v Seattle – both states legalized weed.

Far out, man!

ya2daup on January 16, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Nah, they will all be watching the alternate programming-one of the National Geographic channels is starting a new Super Bowl Sunday tradition-The Fish Bowl!

3+ hours of a view of a single goldfish in a bowl.

Trailer

PS: Dave’s Still Not Here.

Del Dolemonte on January 16, 2014 at 9:14 PM

In other words, federal law on this point — the Controlled Substances Act — trumps state law, even for “medicinal” marijuana. That doesn’t mean the DoJ will start pressing federal charges in California or Colorado, which they seem disinclined to do at the moment. But they can.

Don’t forget that “We The People” trump both Federal and State Law. It’s a little thing called Jury Nullification!

dom89031 on January 17, 2014 at 3:20 AM

Also the NH Republican Party is a total joke as far as getting out the vote is concerned.

Del Dolemonte on January 16, 2014 at 12:54 PM

ayuh, truth in that.

PatHenry on January 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

I like Crowder but his video did nothing to convince me that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. I would bet statistally there are more deaths contributed to alcohol abuse than pot and I have a hard time believeing that psychotic and violent episodes are not also triggered by it’s use.

iceman1960 on January 17, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Statistically.

iceman1960 on January 17, 2014 at 11:09 AM

OF COURSE Federal law trumps state law, did no one go to school? Or were all your teachers and professors Democrats? Explains a lot.

Even the addle-brained Libertarians should recognize that. But, then, I’m an incurable optimist.

Now, pot doesn’t belong on Schedule I. But Congress has the power to remove it. Once Congress acts, then states would be free to regulate or not as they choose.

As part and parcel of any such change, those serving prison sentences for distribution (without aggravating circumstances) should have their time commuted.

Adjoran on January 18, 2014 at 12:18 AM

Don’t forget that “We The People” trump both Federal and State Law. It’s a little thing called Jury Nullification! – dom89031 on January 17, 2014 at 3:20 AM

We also have mandatory jail sentences. I remember back in the 1970s in South Carolina if you had over a certain number of ounces of pot you received 25 years in jail. The city manager’s son in my small town was caught with such an amount and had to serve 25 years in jail.

SC.Charlie on January 19, 2014 at 8:20 AM

We also have mandatory jail sentences. I remember back in the 1970s in South Carolina if you had over a certain number of ounces of pot you received 25 years in jail. The city manager’s son in my small town was caught with such an amount and had to serve 25 years in jail.

SC.Charlie on January 19, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Um…You have to be found guilty before they can sentence you.

dom89031 on January 19, 2014 at 11:24 PM

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