New Hampshire became the latest U.S. state to propose a bill to reduce penalties for the possession and use of psilocybin-containing magic mushrooms, along with a separate bill for broader drug penalty reductions, joining the growing movement across the country to reschedule access to psychedelic substances.
House Bill 1349, listed as “to be introduced” on January 5, is being sponsored by Rep. Tony Labranche (D) in the legislature, with the bipartisan support of five other co-sponsors.
The bill titled, ‘decriminalizing the possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms’ aims to lower the penalties related to psilocybin mushrooms for adults 18 and over. Individuals found in possession of up to 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms will be fined $100 for their first and second offense under this legislation.
For subsequent offences, individuals will be fined $300, however, the “court shall waive the fine for a single conviction within a 3-year period upon proof that person has completed a substance abuse assessment by a licensed drug and alcohol counsellor within 60 days of the conviction,” the bill says.
One of the youngest state lawmakers, Rep. Labranche’s bill emphasizes, “no person shall be subject to arrest for a violation of this section and shall be released provided the law enforcement officer does not have lawful grounds for arrest for a different offence.”
“I have long believed in the decriminalization of drugs as no one should be locked up for being addicted,” Labranche told Truffle Report. “We have seen in other jurisdictions such as Portugal where all drugs were decriminalized and drug addiction rates fell by 50%. This is mostly due to people not fearing prosecution for reaching out for help. On this issue we need to follow the science and update our outdated drug laws.”
“Drug decriminalization is one of the few topics in which both sides can agree on,” Labranche continued. “Democrats can agree with it because we must end the era of mass incarceration and reform our criminal justice system. While Republicans, at least more libertarian leaning ones, can agree that the government should not interfere with the private lives of individuals. I am proud to be leading this bipartisan effort to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.”
Meanwhile, New Hampshire lawmakers also introduced a broader bill to repeal criminal penalties for possession of drugs, and reduce the penalties for nonviolent drug offences.
Introduced by Rep. Max Abramson (R) with bipartisan support from two other co-sponsors, bill HB 1392 proposes to impose a fine of $40 per gram for those found in possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, or phencyclidine (PCP). For possession of any other controlled substances, the fine will be $20 per gram.
Both bills have been referred to House Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and are scheduled for a hearing on January 12, 2022.
In 2020, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of a North County resident’s use of psilocybin mushroom for religious purposes.
The bench had ruled that the conviction conflicted with New Hampshire laws protecting individuals’ religious practices. The bench said, “Although we recognize that the application of the compelling interest balancing test may present practical challenges, we cannot “justif[y] the denial of constitutional rights simply because the protection of those rights require[s] special effort.”