New Hampshire gov touts tax-free, state-run adult-use cannabis industry

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Following the New Hampshire Senate’s rejection of an adult-use marijuana legalization proposal last week, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu offered a unique path forward that may still deeply disappoint the cannabis industry: tax-free legal cannabis, but sold only in state-owned stores, with tight state control and local bans allowed.

New Hampshire remains the only state in small, relatively unpopulated New England that has not legalized recreational cannabis for all adults 21 and over.

There is medical access, but with strict licensing caps.

That status quo will remain for now after the state Senate voted down a legalization proposal for the second consecutive year on Thursday on a mostly partisan, Republican-led party-line vote, 14-10.

But a majority of state residents still want legalization, a reality Sununu acknowledged in a statement published Friday.

Claiming that illicit market cannabis is tainted with fentanyl – an oft-repeated claim that experts say is false – Sununu laid out a tightly regulated legalization plan that he would endorse.

Sununu proposed adult-use legalization in which cannabis would be:

  • Tax free, but sold only in state-owned stores.
  • Subject to strict state control, including restrictions on marketing.
  • Subject to local bans, including controls on “clustering.”

Sununu did not address who might be able to grow cannabis, but emphasized that his proposal is “the best path forward for our state,” he said in his statement.

Any other proposal deviating from this framework “will be vetoed,” he vowed.