Police departments across the state are coming to grips with how to deal with people caught possessing marijuana after New Hampshire became the 22nd state to decriminalize the drug on Tuesday.
Police departments throughout the Granite State have until Sept. 18, less than two months, to prepare for change in drug policy, with many law enforcement agencies expressing uncertainty of the steps they will take to deal with the change.
The law has some ambiguity, leaving questions like how to deal with someone in possession of differing marijuana products, or how to enforce driving under the influence of the drug.
“We’re trying to understand how it’s going to change court procedures and how it’s going to affect records management systems,” said Tuftonboro police Chief Andy Shagoury, the President of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, which opposed by the bill.
Other police chiefs said they weren’t ready to talk about the changes to the law, or declined to comment altogether. A spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety did not return phone calls or emails for comment.
A few things about the law are clear: The age of the individual in possession matters, the weight of the marijuana matters, and the form the drug is in matters.
For example, decriminalization doesn’t apply to minors. Anyone under 18 in possession of any amount of marijuana can be charged with delinquency. And only people 21 or older are allowed to possess marijuana-infused products like brownies or other edible goods.
The form of the drug dictates the allowed weight. The decriminalized threshold for marijuana itself is three-quarters of an ounce, or about 21 grams; five grams for hashish; and 300 milligrams of the active chemical in marijuana for edible products. (Generally, 300 milligrams of THC is considered equivalent to an