Cannabis Legalization in New Hampshire: Examining A State-Run Model

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Recent legislation creates a different approach to legal cannabis in the state.

On August 8th, 2023 New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu signed into law House Bill 611, which created a commission intending to study cannabis legalization modeled after state-run liquor operations instead of through private businesses (1).

“With us controlling the retail on the marketing and the branding side, we would be able to control all that and we do it really well,” Governor Sununu said (2). “Our New Hampshire liquor stores are ranked one of the top five retailers in the country. So we have a model that works. Other states don’t really have that, and so we can build off of that.”

“So let’s provide it with protection,” Sununu also stated (2). “There’ll be some revenue from it—but you should never be legalizing more drugs for revenue. That has ethical and moral problems wrapped all around it. Other states did that we’re not going down that path. So I think if they can do it, we can get it done.”


The model will be unique to the Granite State (1). Amendments to the bill include removing the requirement that severe pain be treatment-resistant before a patient qualifies for medical cannabis, and prohibits the sale of hemp containing certain amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (3).

Earlier this year, the governor vetoed a bill that would have made possession of up to four ounces of cannabis legal, and also issued a statement explaining his preferred path toward legalization in the state (4).

According to the new legislation, the newly formed commission will include five senators and five House representatives, as well as representatives from Attorney General’s Office, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Bankers Association, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Hampshire Medical Society, and Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth (3).

This commission is required to report its findings and recommendations by December of this year (1).


  1. DeWitt, E. Commission to study state-run cannabis retail model moves ahead (accessed Aug 18, 2023).
  2. Jaeger, K. New Hampshire lawmakers send Marijuana Legalization Study Commission bill to governor, who says reform is “inevitable” (accessed Aug 18, 2023).
  3. (accessed Aug 18, 2023).
  4. McEvoy, E. New Hampshire governor outlines path for recreational cannabis legalization in the State (accessed Aug 18, 2023).