HB555 (2009) Detail

Decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.


HB 555-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2009 SESSION

09-0759

04/05

HOUSE BILL 555-FN

AN ACT decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

SPONSORS: Rep. Lindsey, Ches 3

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

ANALYSIS

This bill provides that a person who is in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana shall be subject to a $100 fine and forfeiture of the marijuana.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

09-0759

04/05

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine

AN ACT decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Controlled Drug Act; Personal or Medicinal Use of Marijuana Permitted. Amend RSA 318-B by inserting after section 2-b the following new section:

318-B:2-c Personal or Medical Use of Marijuana Permitted.

I. No person possessing up to one ounce of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, for personal use, shall be prosecuted under this chapter.

II.(a) Any person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, and who engages in any conduct prohibited under RSA 318-B:2 shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.

(b) Any person under 18 years of age who is in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, and who engages in any conduct prohibited under RSA 318-B:2 shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana. The offender’s parents or legal guardians shall be notified of the offense. The court shall order the offender to complete an approved drug awareness program, at the offenders expense, within one year of the date of the offense. Further, the court shall order the offender to participate in community service which shall be completed within one year of the date of the offense. The offender shall furnish the court with evidence of completion of both an approved drug awareness program and community service. An offender who fails to complete either a drug awareness program or community service, or both, shall be subject to a fine of $1,000.

2 Controlled Drug Act; Penalties. Amend RSA 318-B:26, I(c)(5) to read as follows:

(5) Marijuana in a quantity of greater than one ounce [or more] including any adulterants or dilutants, or hashish in a quantity of 5 grams or more including any adulterants or dilutants;

3 Controlled Drug Act; Penalties. Amend RSA 318-B:26, I(d)(1) to read as follows:

(1) Marijuana in a quantity of [less] greater than one ounce including any adulterants or dilutants, or hashish in a quantity of less than 5 grams including any adulterants or dilutants;

4 Model Drug Dealer Liability Act; Definitions Amended. Amend RSA 318-C:4, V to read as follows:

V. “Level 1 offense” means possession of greater than [1/4] one ounce [or more], but less than 4 ounces, or distribution of less than one ounce of an illegal drug other than marijuana, or possession of one pound or more or 25 plants or more, but less than 4 pounds or 50 plants, or distribution of more than 1/2 pound but less than one pound of marijuana.

5 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2010.

LBAO

09-0759

01/16/09

HB 555-FN - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

FISCAL IMPACT:

      The Judicial Branch, the Judicial Council, and the Department of Corrections state this bill may decrease state expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill may reduce county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures or state, county, and local revenue.

METHODOLOGY:

    The Judicial Branch states this bill establishes that no individual will be prosecuted for possessing up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use unless that individual engages in conduct prohibited by RSA 318-B:2, with additional provisions for offenders under 18 years of age. Under the proposed bill some cases currently prosecuted as class A misdemeanors would not be prosecuted at all, and would decrease others from a class A misdemeanor to a violation. Each case which is currently prosecuted as a class A misdemeanor, but would not be prosecuted at all under the proposed bill will reduce state expenditures by $51.14 in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. If the bill resulted in 196 fewer cases in FY 2010 and each year thereafter, the fiscal impact would be in excess of $10,000 annually. To the extent this bill also results in fewer appeals, the potential for cost savings is greater. Each case currently prosecuted as a class A misdemeanor which will be a violation under the proposed bill will reduce state expenditures by $15.39 in FY 2010 and each year thereafter (9.5 minutes average saved per case x $1.6195 per minute). If 665 cases were prosecuted in FY 2010 and each year thereafter, the reduction in state expenditures would be in excess of $10,000. Based on the number of marijuana cases prosecuted annually, the Branch estimates this bill will reduce state expenditures at the Judicial Branch in excess of $10,000 in FY 2010 and each year thereafter.

    The Judicial Council states this bill has the potential to reduce state expenditures in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. Though the Public Defender and Contract Attorney Programs do not maintain data based on amount of controlled substance in an offenders possession, the Council cannot estimate the exact fiscal impact. However, the Council believes many cases currently involving small amounts of marijuana possession would not be prosecuted under the proposed

                      LBAO

                      09-0759

                      01/16/09

    bill. Each case not prosecuted by the Public Defender or a contract attorney would reduce state expenditures by $275 in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. Each case not prosecuted by assigned counsel would reduce state expenditures by the counsel’s fee, $60 per hour, with a fee cap of $1400. This cap may be waived upon motion filed with the court in advance of exceeding the cap. Also, defense counsel may request “services other than counsel,” such as blood analysis. However, these would not be necessary if there is no criminal charge. The Council states while there could be significant reduction in the number of misdemeanor cases, should the police charge other crimes along with the violation charge, the potential cost savings would be lost. For example, if one offender is charged with possession of marijuana of one ounce or less and resisting arrest, this would still result in the right to counsel.

    The New Hampshire Association of Counties states the average annual cost to detain an individual in a county correctional facility is $30,165. The Association states to the extent any individual would not be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration in a county correctional facility, county expenditures would decrease. However, as the Association cannot predict the number of individuals affected, the fiscal impact on county expenditures is indeterminable at this time.

    The Department of Corrections states the average annual cost of incarcerating an individual in the general prison population for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 was $32,753. The cost to supervise an individual by the Department’s division of field services for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 was $779. To the extent this bill will reduce the number of individuals incarcerated; this bill will reduce state expenditures. However, because the Department is unable to predict the number of individuals affected, the fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time.

Links

HB555 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB555 Revision: 13581 Date: Jan. 22, 2009, midnight

Docket