Governor Chris Sununu Statement on Marijuana Legalization

Governor Chris Sununu
3 min readMay 12, 2023


During my years as Governor, a bill to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire has never garnered enough bipartisan support to reach my desk. I have never vetoed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. In 2017, I was proud to be the first Governor in New Hampshire history to sign legislation decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana so that no one would go to jail for simple possession. We expanded access to medical marijuana and provided a pathway to annul old convictions for marijuana possession.

In the past, I said now is not the time to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire. Across this country and in the midst of an unprecedented opioid crisis, other states rushed to legalize marijuana with little guardrails. As a result, many are seeing the culture and fabric of their state turn.

NH is the only state in New England where recreational use is not legal. Knowing that a majority of our residents support legalization, it is reasonable to assume change is inevitable. To ignore this reality would be shortsighted and harmful. That is why, with the right policy and framework in place, I stand ready to sign a legalization bill that puts the State of NH in the drivers seat, focusing on harm reduction — not profits. Similar to our Liquor sales, this path helps to keep substances away from kids by ensuring the State of New Hampshire retains control of marketing, sales, and distribution — eliminating any need for additional taxes. As such, the bill that was defeated in NH this session was not the right path for our state.

New Hampshire must avoid marijuana miles — the term for densely concentrated marijuana shops within one city or town. Any city or town that wants to ban shops should be free to do so. The state would not impose any taxes, and should control all messaging, avoiding billboards, commercials, and digital ads that bombard kids on a daily basis.

Never before has purchasing drugs on the black market been more dangerous. Marijuana and other drugs on the black market are being laced with fentanyl, posing significant risks to our citizens. By regulating the sale of marijuana in New Hampshire, the state will ensure our citizens are in a safer place.

This path:

  • Allows the state to control distribution and access
  • Keeps marijuana away from kids & schools
  • Controls the marketing and messaging
  • Prohibits marijuana miles
  • Empowers towns to keep out if they choose
  • Reduces access to poly-drugs
  • Keeps it tax free to undercut the cartels who continue to drive NH’s illicit drug market

This is a long-term, sustainable solution for our state. I am supportive of legalizing marijuana in the right way — with this legislature — rather than risk a poorly thought out framework that inevitably could pass under future governors or legislatures. Should the legislature pass future legalization bills without these provisions in place, they will be vetoed. This is the best path forward for our state , and I stand ready and willing to work with the legislature so that we can deliver a legalization bill that is smart, sustainable, and retains the fabric and culture of our state.