On January 25th I had the opportunity to testify in favor of HB 1705, a bill which would legalize the use and trade of marijuana in my home state of New Hampshire. It was the first time I had ever participated directly in the legislative process, and it turned out to be an incredible experience that I won’t soon forget. New Hampshire is an interesting place; it has one of the largest, most accessible legislative bodies in the world, with a proud tradition of limited government, yet it remains the only New England state without any progressive marijuana legislation. It was this desire for the “Live Free or Die” state to live up to its motto that drove me to testify on an early Monday morning.
What I found there was both exciting and encouraging. I had the privilege of speaking alongside a group of extremely articulate individuals, people with the same passion for drug policy reform that continues to motivate me through setbacks and challenges. The collective energy in the room was palpable; everyone there was eager to draw attention to an issue that is too often dismissed as being unworthy of serious scrutiny. While it is far too early to tell if this bill will eventually be signed into law, I can make one claim with certainty: This issue is not going away.
It is no longer enough for prohibitionists to passively dismiss the problems of violence and corruption that are inevitable consequences of their policies. Whether it be in California, Colorado, or my own backyard, people continue to think, they continue to speak their minds, and they continue to unapologetically shine light on this issue. This is what encourages me the most about this movement. It is a debate that, with an open mind and a free dialogue, presents a relatively easy solution. And it is a solution that is becoming increasingly clear to an ever-growing number of Americans. If I could take away one lesson from this experience, it would be this: The laws will not change themselves. The people must empower each other to make the changes they would have for themselves and for their communities. I am thrilled to see this exciting exchange of ideas play out in New Hampshire, and am confident that with enough patience and dedication, we will finally see the “Live Free or Die” state grow into its founding principles.