Ohio has legalized recreational cannabis. Click HERE to learn more about cannabis business opportunities in Ohio.

How to open a dispensary in New Hampshire

Overview

Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in New Hampshire? We will provide the most recent news and details about launching a cannabis dispensary in the state on this page, along with valuable insights about what will happen next.

The state of New Hampshire banned recreational cannabis usage, but since July 18th, 2017, possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce is no longer considered a crime. Meanwhile, legislation approved in 2013 legalized medicinal usage.

On December 12th, 2022, legislative leaders from both parties in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives said that they would be working together to introduce a measure to legalize marijuana in the state during the 2023 session. Republican House Majority Leader Jason Osborne and Democratic House Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm co-sponsored HB 639. If passed, people over 21 would be permitted to possess and gift up to four ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. 

On February 22nd, 2023, legalization legislation HB 639 was passed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives with a vote of 234-127. This decision followed the approval of an amended version of the bill by the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Liquor Subcommittee on February 15th. One notable alteration to the original draft is that the bill designates the state’s current Liquor Commission as the regulatory body for the marijuana industry, rather than establishing a new independent commission as initially introduced in HB 639. 

On March 16th, 2023, the New Hampshire House of Representatives gave its approval to HB 360. This bill from Kevin Verville (R) seeks to legalize marijuana in the state, however, unlike HB 639, which is a more comprehensive measure sponsored by bipartisan leaders that includes taxation and regulation, HB 360 does not include any regulations or limitations on cannabis. The House voted 210-160 to disagree with the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee’s decision made on February 17th, where they rejected the proposed law as it was deemed unnecessary to be turned into a law. Following this, the bill was passed by members in a voice vote and will now be sent to the Senate. However, on May 10th, the bill failed in the Senate.

On April 6th, 2023, the New Hampshire House of Representatives gave its approval to HB 639 for the second time. The proposal was passed with a vote of 272-109 and sent to the Senate for further consideration. The bill had previously received House approval but underwent amendments in committee before being brought back to the floor for final passage. On May 11th, 2023, HB 639 was rejected by the Senate with a 14-10 vote. However, the following day, Governor Chris Sununu proposed a potential path for legalization, advocating for the regulation of recreational marijuana similar to how the state regulates the sale of alcohol, prioritizing harm reduction over financial gain. 

On August 8th, 2023, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill, HB 611, which establishes a commission responsible for formulating potential laws for the legalization of marijuana sales via a network of state-operated shops. On October 24th, 2023, the New Hampshire Commission to Study With the Purpose of Proposing Legalization, State Controlled Sales of Cannabis and Cannabis Products started working on a bill to legalize cannabis sales through state-run stores. Their goal is to draft legislation by December 1st, considering the potential impact of legalization on the state. This legislation will be reviewed by lawmakers in the 2024 session. Key topics discussed include integrating existing medical marijuana dispensaries into the new system, ensuring the safety and potency of cannabis products, and avoiding disruptions to the hemp and CBD markets. You can find the full draft legislation that was discussed at the meeting here.

According to the Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in February 2022, 74% of state citizens believe that prohibition should be repealed. Overall, the state has seen a 25% increase in pro-legalization sentiment since 2013.

On January 24th, 2024 lawmakers in New Hampshire debated two marijuana legalization proposals, focusing on aligning with the governor’s preferences. The House subcommittee discussed amending the current bill to include a state-controlled store system but the bill’s sponsor opposed this due to concerns about the state’s role as the sole cannabis industry franchisor. The debate highlighted key issues like the lack of provisions for expunging past cannabis convictions and the absence of dual-use licenses for medical operators. An alternative model was proposed based on the state’s liquor system to reduce state liability, but it was considered impractical. 

On February 13th, 2024, a New Hampshire legislative subcommittee approved amendments to a bill aimed at legalizing adult-use marijuana, leading to the House Commerce Committee passing HB1633 with a 17-3 vote on February 14th, 2024. The bill, which allows for up to 15 retail stores to sell recreational marijuana, focuses on establishing a regulated, transparent, and trustworthy market in the state. Key aspects of the legislative changes include licensing procedures, tax revenue distribution, and penalties for public consumption, ensuring a responsible transition to a legal cannabis market.

On March 13th, 2024, New Hampshire’s efforts to legalize marijuana faced challenges in shaping a bill that met both legislative and Governor Sununu’s criteria. Despite initial House approval, the bill is being modified to adhere to the governor’s requirements, such as setting a statewide limit on marijuana retailers and imposing restrictions on cannabis business lobbying. An alternative plan suggesting a franchise model is under consideration, aiming to satisfy both the Senate and the governor. However, disagreements over public consumption penalties and regulatory oversight specifics continue to complicate progress. The House Finance Committee postponed its vote to allow time for further amendments. Governor Sununu, acknowledging the inevitability of legalization, remains skeptical, underscoring the ongoing struggle to establish a legal marijuana framework in New Hampshire.

The Opportunity Size

Statistica projects that the revenue of marijuana sales in New Hampshire will rise from 2016 to 2025. According to the prediction, the value of marijuana sales in New Hampshire is expected to reach around $50.8 million in 2025.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is legal in New Hampshire. HB 573 was signed into law by New Hampshire’s governor, Maggie Hassan, in July 2013 to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis for those with “chronic or terminal illnesses” and “debilitating medical conditions.” Compared to other medical marijuana laws around the country, this one stands out for its stringency since it only permits the use of cannabis when all other therapeutic options have been exhausted.

Patients have had access to cannabis from regulated and licensed alternative treatment centers as of 2016.

Qualifying Conditions

In New Hampshire, individuals with certain medical conditions are eligible to use medical marijuana as part of their treatment. The specific qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in New Hampshire include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • And more

Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Cannabis Business Opportunities

The Alternative Treatment Center license is the only type of cannabis license that may be awarded in New Hampshire in line with the state’s cannabis regulations. ATCs are responsible for the cultivation, production, and delivery of medical cannabis to qualifying patients. There are just seven ATC dispensaries in the state now. These ATC dispensaries may be found in:

  • Chichester
  • Conway
  • Dover
  • Keene
  • Lebanon
  • Merrimack
  • Plymouth

 

New Hampshire does not accept applications for ATC dispensaries at this time. When the program is reopened, any new information will be added to this area. For the time being, you may examine the information below on opening a dispensary in the state so that you are prepared to apply when the application period reopens.

Medical Cannabis Dispensary Fees

In New Hampshire, ATC dispensaries are required to pay fees as part of the state’s Medical Cannabis Program. These fees can include:

  • $3000: request for application (RFA) submission fee
  • $20,000: RFA selection fee
  • $250: name change
  • $250: administrator change
  • $30,000: location change 

Medical Cannabis Dispensary Application Requirements

Each RFA-selected ATC must provide the following to the department within 90 days of notification.

  • Completed application
  • Certificate of Good Standing
  • Proof of NH attorney general charitable trust registration
  • ATC articles of agreement copy
  • ATC’s bylaws copy
  • Disclosure of any convictions, fines, censures, or suspensions; revocations of registration, certification, or license by any administrative; or judicial proceeding against any prospective board member, corporate officer, executive employee, or against the business or corporation itself
  • ATC floor plan
  • An ATC board, executive, and corporate officer organization chart
  • ATC board, executive, and corporate officer resumes
  • Executive employees, company officers, and ATC board members’ names, addresses, and birthdates
  • Local permits
  • The NH Department of Safety’s federal and state criminal records check results
  • If the ATC utilizes a private water supply, proof that it has been tested and fulfills the criteria
  • The distance, in feet, between the registered property and any previously designated drug-free school zone that is 1320 feet away
  • A list of all people or organizations not listed in the RFA with direct or indirect control over ATC administration or policy
  • Proof of $2 million liability insurance

Recreational Use/Adult Use Marijuana Legalization

The use of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in New Hampshire. However, on July 18th, 2017, possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana was decriminalized.

The state House has repeatedly advanced bills to legalize marijuana, but they have failed to gain traction in the Senate. Despite previous unsuccessful legalization attempts, supporters of marijuana legalization remain persistent in their efforts.

A legalization bill failed in the senate on May 10th, 2023. As it pertains to New Hampshire regulation and licensing of cannabis businesses, HB 639 would have achieved the following:

  • The newly renamed regulatory body, the Liquor and Cannabis Commission, will assume responsibility for overseeing the marijuana industry and dispensing business licenses. 
  • Within 18 months of its implementation, the Department of Health and Human Services and the commission will collaborate to establish guidelines that would enable existing medical cannabis dispensaries to obtain dual licenses to serve both medical and adult customers. 
  • The state does not intend to impose a statewide cap on the number of licensed marijuana businesses. 
  • Every application must include the commission’s fee and a municipal fee of $500 for assessment, except for the smallest tier of cultivation facilities, where the municipal fee is set at $75. 
  • It is up to individual localities to restrict or prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their jurisdictions.

According to John Hunt, the chairman of the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, if HB 639 progresses out of his committee, lawmakers may reconsider a different bill, HB 544, which he believes has a higher likelihood of becoming law.

HB 544, which is sponsored by Rep. Daniel Eaton, proposes a system in which government-run stores would be responsible for the recreational marijuana market, with the Liquor Commission being responsible for overseeing the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and retail sale of cannabis across the state. As of March 13th, 2023, the bill is retained in committee.

This 2023 session has also seen the introduction of several other legalization bills, including basic proposals to remove cannabis from the state’s controlled substances list and permit limited home cultivation.

In New Hampshire, some of the major advocates pushing for recreational legalization are as follows:

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Marijuana Policy Project 

Final Thoughts

There are likely to be several developments that will impact efforts to legalize cannabis in New Hampshire. Sign up for our New Hampshire Cannabis Mailing List (below), and we’ll ensure you’re always up-to-date on the latest developments, hard-to-find information, and discussion about New Hampshire’s legalization including the answers to questions like:

  • When will recreational marijuana be legalized in New Hampshire?
  • How much does it cost to start a dispensary in New Hampshire?
  • What special programs will be offered?

 

In addition to learning about the cannabis rules and opportunities in New Hampshire, you can also learn about how to open a dispensary in the country by reading this article.

 

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