N.H. House votes to decriminalize marijuana

03/19/08 6:53AM

New Hampshire residents could possess one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana without facing jail under a bill headed to the state Senate.

But supporters' victory was short-lived. Governor John Lynch's spokesman says Lynch would veto the bill if it reaches him, saying it sends the wrong message to young people about the danger of drug use.

The House voted 193-141 yesterday to decriminalize the small amount of the drug, making possessing it a violation subject to a $200 fine. Under current law, possessing that amount could mean spending a year in jail and paying a $2,000 fine.

Supporters argued current law costs youths who experiment with the drug all chances at receiving financial aid to attend college. They said it wasn't fair to penalize them for life for a youthful mistake.

Opponents pointed out that the bill would not change stiffer penalties for transporting the same quarter ounce or selling it. They said that youth caught in a car would still face a misdemeanor and those selling it, a felony.

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