State-run marijuana sales model passes New Hampshire Senate

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Adult-use marijuana legalization cleared the New Hampshire Senate, but more needs to be done before the state sees legal sales.

The state Senate voted 14-9 late Thursday to pass House Bill 1633, but only after making significant modifications to a measure previously passed by the state House to make it more in line with what Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has said he won’t veto, The Keene Sentinel reported.

However, the New Hampshire Senate and House must now “attempt to work out differences” between the recreational measures they each passed before a final draft can be sent to Gov. Chris Sununu, according to the Sentinel.

Under the Senate-approved plan, marijuana in New Hampshire would be sold in a way similar to how the state sells liquor but also in a fashion unique for cannabis in the United States.

Adult-use cannabis would be sold under a franchise model that grants the state “complete control” over business operations including advertising and locations, according to the NH Business Review.

No more than 15 stores would be allowed throughout the state.

However, for that to happen, the Senate-approved bill must be returned to the Senate Finance Committee, where more changes are possible.

State Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican, remains opposed to legalization, the NH Business Review reported.

And there’s no guarantee that the House – which has passed a more free-market version of legalization several times – will sign off on the Senate’s strict state-control version.

“There’s a whole bunch of people in the House who feel completely different about where this cannabis bill has gone,” Democratic state Rep. David Meuse told the Portsmouth Herald.

“The odds of any kind of concurrence or conference committee success with that bill are not great.”

New Hampshire remains the only New England state without adult-use legalization, though there is a limited medical cannabis program.