By DAN TUOHY • FEB 10, 2018
A bill to allow for annulment of criminal convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire has received a favorable recommendation from a House committee.
The legislation was drafted after Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, signed into law a measure to decriminalize possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of pot. The law took effect Sept. 16, 2017.
Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat who is the lead sponsor of the bill, said no one testified against it during a recent public hearing. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee endorsed it 14-4 last week.
Individuals with this conviction can face challenges with finding work or housing, according to Cushing. He says given the decriminalization step - New Hampshire became the 22nd state to do so, including New England neighbors -- it just makes sense.
"It hardly seems fair for us to penalize someone for something that now is not a criminal act," he says.
Or, as he writes in the majority report: "Fairness requires that we provide the opportunity to remove the shackles of a criminal record for an activity that no longer is criminal."
Cushing did not have an estimate of the number of cases that might be brought through this proposed annulment procedure.