(The Center Square) – In light of the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, some members of the New Hampshire Legislature have turned to consideration of the legalization of cannabis.
The Concord Monitor reported that some Democratic representatives back the idea of marijuana sales to make up the difference. They believe marijuana legislation could likely be prioritize because of the state’s coronavirus related economic woes.
State Rep. Rep. David Meuse, D-Portsmouth, warned that tactics used in past years to solve tough budget problems might not be sufficient to get it done this time.
“Going forward next year it looks like we’re going to have a huge hole in the state budget,” Meuse told the newspaper. “We’re going to need to get creative when it comes to filling that hole. So far it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to fill it with any money coming from the federal government. And some of the projections that I’ve seen are pretty terrifying.”
Meuse’s colleagues on both sides of the aisle warn that dwindling tourist dollars and a harsh winter could deplete New Hampshire’s pocketbook.
One piece of legislation that could help the cause of marijuana sales is House Bill 1663, a holdover from last year.
The 26-page bill would allow New Hampshire residents who are 21 or older to use or produce marijuana, additionally creating a licensing and regulatory system for businesses.
While HB 1663 received approval to be placed on the docket in the next legislative session, lawmakers such as State Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston, expressed skepticism about the potential new source of revenue.
“I have supported the marijuana laws that we have," Welch told the Monitor. "I don’t support making an industry out of it."