The laws of New Hampshire are strict when it comes to drug control, and a drug possession charge can carry a significant prison stint and substantial fines. Enforcement can always vary for simple possession laws, depending on police and prosecutorial priorities.
But the Granite state has yet to strongly embrace reform for its drug possession laws. There is no decriminalization of marijuana. Medical marijuana just passed in 2013 but has not been implemented. There are drug courts which are an opportunity for some people to accept treatment programs in exchange for avoiding criminal penalties.
All drug charges are complicated for the average person to understand. You should always speak with an attorney to find out the best options in your specific case.
Drug Classifications and Possession Penalties
Like many states, the state of New Hampshire classifies controlled substances in the same manner as the federal government—according to the Controlled Substances Act. Here, drugs are grouped in “Schedules” according to how “dangerous” and “addictive” they are. This schedule system has been a frequent point of controversy as (at the federal level), marijuana is classified as a Schedule I, the same as heroin and what are considered the most dangerous drugs.
In New Hampshire, if you are accused of possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana, you will likely face felony charges.
Marijuana is classified and punished differently than other drugs under New Hampshire law. A marijuana possession charge is classified as a Class A misdemeanor under the statues. Generally, it carries a maximum of 1 year in jail and a fine reaching $2,000.
NH Marijuana laws here are in a state of flux and may change in the near future. On July 23, 2013 Gov. Maggie Hassan signed medical marijuana legislation into law. However, implementation is expected to take a while. With public support for all-out legalization at 60%, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, and with the political climate fair, New Hampshire may be the next state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, as Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine may do in 2016.
First Offense Drug Possession (non-marijuana)
All drug possession other than marijuana is classified as a felony offense. The most common controlled substances charged are cocaine, heroin, meth, and psychedelics like ecstasy (MDMA, Molly).
If you have no drug possession charges on your record, your first offense will be as class B felony charge and carry up to $25,000 in fines and 7 years in prison. If you and your attorney are fortunate enough to negotiate a suspended sentence, you could face only 5 years probation or less with no jail time.
Second offense Drug Possession (non-marijuana)
You may find yourself in trouble with the law for drug possession for a second or subsequent time. If this is the case, the charges you face will be more severe, as will the potential penalties. A second-offense drug possession charge is a Class A felony. Class A felonies carry up to 15 years in prison and fines reaching $50,000. If your attorney successfully argues to have your sentenced suspended, you could serve up to 5 years probation.
Drug Trafficking, Sale, and Possession with Intent to sell
Prosecutors in the state of New Hampshire frequently press drug trafficking charges against individuals who should face nothing more than possession charges. Being accused of selling or even intending to sell drugs can considerably impact the severity of your potential sentence.
Possession with intent to sell less than a single ounce of marijuana, for instance, is a felony charge that carries the potential for up to 3 years in prison. Considering many people who casually smoke marijuana frequently carry up to an ounce on them at any given time with absolutely no intention to sell it, this charge can criminalize a casual user.
Consulting with a local drug possession attorney in the state of New Hampshire can help ensure you are making the best decisions for your set of circumstances.