New Hampshire, Vermont head closer to legalization
California is now recreational, and that news will likely make headlines around the world, not to mention show other communities that recreational cannabis doesn't mean the end of the world. As that news sinks in, however, two other states are already planning on moving closer to legal marijuana than they've ever been.
New Hampshire is up first -- the House of Representatives is set to reconvene for 2018 on Wednesday, and one of the first issues on the docket is HB 656, a bill to legalize cannabis sales. The bill was rejected by a committee for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but members of the panel who support it are planning to make changes that should give it a better reception in the House. As it stands, the bill attempts to set up a whole system of taxes and regulations, but opponents say that a full system is too much without more information. So supporters are planning to dial it back to just small possession and growing, which should make it much easier to pass (with the full system likely being figured out later).
That's similar to what Vermont is considering right now. That state is also reconvening its lawmakers this week, and is considering a revised version of a bill that was vetoed by the governor last year. The veto, said the governor, was based on not having strict enough penalties for driving under the influence, and didn't do enough to keep the drug away from children. Both of those concerns have been answered (and it sounds like opponents to the bill are pretty resigned that it will pass), so there could be some good news from VT later this week. The original bill was set to go into effect in July of this coming year, but it remains to be seen when changes would actually happen if the new version passes.
2018 should be an exciting year for the cannabis community for sure. If Colorado and Washington are any indication, California should be a huge success, and will likely encourage other places to take a look at their legislation and see where they can make positive changes. Expect to hear a whole lot more about legalization around the country this year.