Recent Legislative Update: New Hampshire Recreational Cannabis Bill

Jul 2, 2024

The New Hampshire (NH) legislature recently failed to pass House Bill 1633, which would have legalized recreational cannabis in the State. Despite initial support and amendments, the bill was ultimately tabled by the House with a narrow vote of 178-173. This decision leaves NH as the only state in New England where recreational cannabis remains illegal.

Podcast Spotlight

Cannabis Commercialization: What You Need to Know with Kate Frey

Are you confused by the various options regarding cannabis in NH? In a recent episode of The Partnership’s Power of Prevention podcast, we sat down with Kate Frey from New Futures to explain the range of options on the table to expand legal access to cannabis. Hear lessons learned from other states and understand some common-sense recommendations to protect the public’s health and limit the negative consequences, especially for youth.

Understanding the Harms and Risks of Cannabis for Young People

As discussions around cannabis legalization continue, it is important to understand the potential risks and harms associated with cannabis use, particularly for young people. While some adults are certified to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes, awareness of these risks remains crucial.

Here are some important points to consider:

1. Increased THC Potency and Its Effects

data chart increasing with arrowToday’s cannabis is much more potent than in years past. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the component that causes the high, has increased significantly. It used to be around 3%, but now often exceeds 20% and can even reach over 30%. With the introduction of concentrated THC products such as oil, shatter, dab, and edibles, THC concentrations have been able to reach upwards of 95%.

High potency products (THC over 10%) are linked to an increased risk of serious mental health issues, including psychotic and non-psychotic depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, and cannabis use disorder (addiction).

2. Synthetic Cannabinoids: A Growing Concern

Synthetic cannabinoids, often marketed as a cheaper alternative to cannabis, pose significant risks and are particularly concerning for youth. They are commonly sold in disposable vapes, vape carts, pre-rolls, dabs, vape pods, or as edibles, like gummies. The use of synthetic cannabinoids among high school students has hovered at around 10% over the past few years.

For context, about 20% of high school students in NH report current cannabis use, which includes both synthetic and non-synthetic forms.

four teens sitting outside playing cards smilingThese substances often come in appealing packaging targeting young people and can cause severe neurological effects such as seizures or coma, more commonly seen in youth compared to adults. Some synthetic cannabinoids have potential or current medical uses, yet many are illicitly manufactured and sold. Without quality control measures, this can increase the risk of contamination and harmful additives.

3. Early Use Risks

Initiating cannabis use at a young age significantly increases the risk of various adverse outcomes later in life. According to the 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 4.6% of high school students in NH reported trying marijuana for the first time before the age of 13.

Early and frequent use can lead to:

  • Future substance use and addiction
  • Mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression
  • Behavioral issues and school delinquency
  • Social and academic challenges

4. How You Can Support Cannabis Risk Education and Protect Young People

  • THEY STILL LOOK UP TO YOU | #StrongerThanYouThinkStay Informed: Understand the risks associated with cannabis use, especially for young people, and share accurate information with your community.
  • Promote Open Conversations: Encourage honest discussions about cannabis use within your family and community. Create a safe space for young people to ask questions and express their thoughts.
  • Be a Role Model: Set a positive example by demonstrating responsible behavior and making healthy choices. Young people often look up to adults in their lives, and your actions can influence their decisions. If you use therapeutic cannabis, follow provider recommendations, store it in child-safe containers, lock it away to prevent accidental poisoning, and avoid using it around children or while caring for them. Learn more about therapeutic cannabis laws and responsible use in NH.
  • Universal Screening: Support Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in schools and pediatrician offices to identify and prevent substance misuse early.
Podcast Spotlight

Making Sense of the Science: How Cannabis Use Impacts the Adolescent Brain with Dr. Kristen Gilliland

Amid growing concerns about the widespread legalization of cannabis, in a recent episode of The Partnership’s Power of Prevention podcast, guest Dr. Kristen Gilliland shares the science and her unique lived experience to help us gain knowledge, compassion, insight and hope. We encourage you to listen if you are concerned about a young person using cannabis.

By staying informed, educating others, and supporting prevention efforts, we can protect our youth and promote a healthy, informed community. Visit The Partnership’s Cannabis Facts webpage and our Stronger Than You Think campaign to help educate others and support the NH prevention community’s response to the harmful effects of cannabis use on youth.

Read more about: Prevention Resources

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