New Hampshire lawmakers reject plan for state-run cannabis retail

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As expected, members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives rejected a plan approved by the governor and state Senate to legalize adult-use marijuana sales via a state-run retail model.

Thursday’s thumbs-down to Gov. Chris Sununu’s legalization vision by the libertarian-leaning state House means New Hampshire remains the lone holdout in New England without state-regulated adult-use cannabis.

This latest turn in a yearslong saga means “more negotiations” for lawmakers, according to Manchester-based TV station WMUR.

However, it’s unclear how two drastically different ideas can be reconciled.

The New Hampshire Senate had made significant revisions to a legalization bill passed by the state House in order to conform with direction from Sununu, who said he would veto any plan that deviated from his vision.

Under the Sununu-approved plan, sales might have begun in 2026 at no more than 15 state-run retail outlets, with regulators strictly controlling everything from product selection to advertising.

The proposed framework is similar to how New Hampshire sells liquor.

However, a state-run model would make New Hampshire a national outlier in cannabis.

And such a framework remains a nonstarter in the state House, one lawmaker said.

“The Senate made this bill the ugliest, the most government-intrusive, the most overregulated marijuana statute they could amend at, the midnight hour, for one singular purpose: for you to vote no,” said Republican state Rep. John Hunt, according to WMUR.

The bill now goes to a conference committee, but it’s unclear how more debate might yield a viable compromise.

With a relatively small population and strict rules, New Hampshire is one of the nation’s smallest markets for cannabis.

Less than 1% of state residents hold a medical marijuana recommendation, according to the New Hampshire Bulletin.