Republicans leave over weed
Republicans leave over weed

Leave the Republican Party Because They Don't Support Marijuana Legalization? NH Rep Jumps Ship, Cites Weed Legalization Issue

Will More Republicans jump to other political parties over cannabis policy?

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Monday Jun 19, 2023

republicans leaving over cannabis views

New Hampshire Representative Dan Hynes recently took to Facebook to make a significant announcement - he has officially changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent. He expressed his reasoning behind this decision, citing his belief that the Republican party no longer upholds crucial values such as defending the Constitution and ensuring individual freedom.


Representative Hynes elaborated on three specific examples that influenced his choice in his Facebook post. Firstly, he expressed his disappointment that legislators failed to safeguard both the rights of parents and children. Secondly, he highlighted his concerns about the hurried passage of a budget with an approximate 20% spending increase, noting that more time was needed for a thorough review.


Representative Dan Hynes' decision to switch parties was further influenced by Republicans voting overwhelmingly against the legalization of cannabis. He expressed his belief that this stance demonstrated a disconnect from the views of the majority of their constituents and a lack of respect for personal freedom. Hynes hoped that Republicans would return to advocating for a smaller government. In the meantime, as an independent, he remains committed to fighting for a smaller government that safeguards the constitutional rights of all individuals.

House Bill 639 Rejection

The bill referenced by Hynes is House Bill 639, which aimed to legalize recreational cannabis in New Hampshire. It proposed various measures, such as creating a regulatory framework, implementing a 12.5% tax on cannabis products, and allocating cannabis revenue for research, education, and substance abuse programs, among other provisions. However, on May 11, the bill was rejected.


In May, Senator William Gannon voiced his opposition to HB-639, arguing that legalization would compromise the future of New Hampshire's youth in exchange for financial gain. He drew a parallel to the biblical story of Judas betraying Jesus for a few pieces of silver, implying that legalization would have similar negative consequences.


Senator Lou D'Allesandro, the sole Democrat in the Senate who voted against the legalization bill, shared his perspective based on his extensive experience as a teacher and coach spanning 50 years. As a concerned grandparent, he opposed the bill to safeguard children.


D'Allesandro expressed his concern that legalizing marijuana would send a message to children that it is safe to use without harmful consequences, emphasizing that this belief is far from the truth. In contrast, Democratic Senator Becky Whitley disputed the notion that legalizing marijuana for adults would lead to a significant increase in its use among young people.


It is worth noting that all Democratic senators, except for D'Allesandro, voted in favour of the bill, while all but one Republican senator opposed the measure.


Whitley emphasized that the use of marijuana among youth is already prevalent in the state, a fact that cannot be denied. Her objective is to reduce youth marijuana consumption, and she believes that legalization can help achieve that goal based on the information she has gathered.

The Aftermath

After the bill's rejection, Senators Becky Whitley and Shannon Chandley shared their statements. Whitley expressed her disappointment, highlighting that failing to pass HB-639 would prevent New Hampshire from benefiting from substantial revenue and lead residents to seek cannabis products in neighbouring states.


She emphasized that the ongoing prohibition of marijuana would perpetuate significant negative consequences. Whitley also stressed that the citizens of New Hampshire have already waited patiently for cannabis legalization and criticized the Senate majority for prolonging their wait even further.


In January, the office of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu made it clear that a bipartisan approach to cannabis legalization would never reach the governor's desk. The office highlighted that such attempts had failed repeatedly in both Republican and Democrat-held years within the Senate. They emphasized that given the rise in teen drug use and overdoses, it was unlikely that the legislature would perceive it as an appropriate time to disregard the data and advance the legalization process.


Contrary to his earlier stance, in May, Governor Chris Sununu issued a new statement expressing his support for cannabis legalization, emphasizing the importance of harm reduction. He acknowledged that New Hampshire is the only state in New England where the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal and recognized the growing support for legalization among the state's residents.


Sununu stated that ignoring this reality would be shortsighted and detrimental. With the condition of having the right policy and framework established, he declared his readiness to sign a legalization bill that prioritizes harm reduction over financial gains, placing the State of New Hampshire in control of the process.


Concluding his statement, Sununu expressed a strong stance on the kind of cannabis legislation he would support and reject through his veto power. He emphasized his support for responsibly legalizing marijuana, specifically with the current legislature. Sununu expressed concerns about the risks associated with hastily developed frameworks that could be passed under future governors or legislatures.


He clarified that future legalization bills lacking the necessary provisions would face his veto. Sununu asserted that this approach represented the best path forward for the state and reiterated his willingness to collaborate with the legislature to craft a legalization bill that is intelligent, sustainable, and preserves the essence and values of New Hampshire.

Widespread Support for Cannabis Legalization.

In a survey by the University of New Hampshire in March 2022, a large majority of residents—74%, to be exact—said they supported the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Additionally, 68% of respondents backed a specific cannabis measure that suggested giving the New Hampshire Liquor Commission control over and regulation of cannabis sales.


On February 25, the University of New Hampshire published the results of a recent poll conducted by the Granite State Poll. The poll covered various topics, including congressional redistricting, yearly car inspections, and Governor Chris Sununu's job performance.


Among the questions asked, participants were also inquired about their views on cannabis legalization. The findings indicated that over two-thirds of residents expressed their support for the cannabis legalization bills currently being proposed.


Participants in the survey were presented with two cannabis-related polls. One poll aimed to gauge their opinion on a recently introduced cannabis legalization bill, while the other sought to determine their stance on cannabis legalization in general.


The issue of cannabis legalization continues to garner attention and generate diverse opinions among residents of New Hampshire. Polls conducted by reputable institutions like the University of New Hampshire reveal a significant level of support for specific cannabis legalization bills and the overall concept of legalization.


The findings highlight the evolving perspectives within the state and the potential for policy changes in the future. As discussions and debates surrounding cannabis legalization progress, it remains crucial to consider New Hampshire residents' diverse viewpoints and interests while shaping legislation that balances societal concerns and individual freedoms.





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