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March 2008
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The Mark Souder Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

New Hampshire residents could possess one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana without facing jail under a bill headed to the state Senate.
The House voted 193-141 Tuesday to decriminalize the small amount of the drug, making possessing it a violation subject to a $200 fine. Under current law, possessing that amount could mean spending a year in jail and paying a $2,000 fine.

OK, that’s something. Legalization is better, but $200 beats $2,000 plus jail. And here’s the interesting part…

Supporters argued current law costs youths who experiment with the drug all chances at receiving financial aid to attend college. They said it wasn’t fair to penalize them for life for a youthful mistake.
Windham Republican Jason Bedrick said he doesn’t advocate using marijuana, but that wasn’t the issue.
“The question is whether a teenager making a stupid decision should face a year in prison and loss of all funding for college,” said Bedrick.

As Scott Morgan points out, the unconscionable harshness of the financial aid penalty promoted by Mark Souder may have actually led to this bill passing the NH House.

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