By John Toole
---- — CONCORD — Gov. Maggie Hassan is defending on Facebook her threat to veto a marijuana legalization bill.
The message from her staff came yesterday as marijuana supporters by the hundreds online pressed Hassan to reconsider her position on House Bill 492.
The New Hampshire House gave preliminary approval to the bill Wednesday on a 170-162 vote.
It not only would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, but also authorize state officials to set up a system to regulate and tax sales.
“For all who have posted about the governor’s position on HB 492, Gov. Hassan believes that the legislation she signed last year to allow doctors to provide relief to patients through the use of appropriately regulated and dispensed medical marijuana is the compassionate and right policy for the State of New Hampshire, but she does not support further efforts to legalize marijuana,” the message on her Facebook page said.
“New Hampshire has among the highest rates in the nation of marijuana, alcohol and other substance use by young people, and the governor believes that we should focus on addressing our substance use challenges and strengthening public health by increasing access to treatment and prevention,” the message said.
Hassan’s staff let marijuana advocates know she’s heard them.
“Correspondence to the office is taken seriously and your concerns have been reviewed and noted,” it said.
Hassan’s staff posted the message yesterday morning. Thirty people had responded with “likes” yesterday afternoon.
But not everyone.
“Sixty percent of the state is in favor of this bill. Follow the will of the people, or expect us to vote for someone else next time around,” H.A. Snyder responded. “Being an elected official is not about your opinions. It’s about representing the people.”
Scott Van posted, “Time to vote for a new governor.”
Ben Philips appealed to the governor to look inside the numbers.
“Please just look at the statistics! You should consider banning alcohol if this is your actual stance,” Philips said.
“Live free or die,” Amanda Lewis posted.
The House Ways and Means Committee next reviews the bill, considering tax issues.
If the full House gives final approval, the bill will move to the Senate, where president Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, also is opposed to it.
The Senate last year killed a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana.