My comments to the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee on SB34 and SB29

Today I attended the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee remote hearings on SB34 and SB29. I prepared written comments ahead of time which I read aloud during the public comment portion of the hearing. The written version of my comments can be found in full below.

SB34: relative to the definition of a controlled drug analog and prohibiting the sale or possession of synthetic urine and urine additives

Hello, my name is John Light from Manchester, New Hampshire. I am here on behalf of only myself. Thank you for the time and opportunity to contribute today.

I am here to oppose SB34 for three reasons:

The first reason I oppose this bill is based on the separation of concerns principle. This bill intends to achieve two quite different and unrelated goals at the same time, first to redefine a controlled drug analog and amend sections of the law related to drug analogs and second to ban synthetic urine and urine additives.

Legislators and the public are therefore forced into the uncomfortable position of accepting either both or neither of these items, even though they may support one but oppose the other.

I recommend splitting these concerns into two separate bills so that the merit of each of these legislative goals can be considered and voted on separately.

The second reason I oppose this bill is for the paternalistic government control the bill places upon New Hampshire residents and entrepreneurs by banning the manufacture, possession, sale of physically harmless substances, namely synthetic urine.

I sympathize with what I assume is the motivation for this ban, which is to prevent people from using such synthetic urine products to defraud either the state or employers. However in these instances it is already possible to deter such fraud by imposing penalties for the fraud itself. For example, the state can impose a penalty on probation and parole offenders who use synthetic urine or additives to fraudulently pass a drug test. Employers can similarly impose penalties on employees who use synethetic urines or additives to do the same. The problem is not the substance (which may have non-fraudulent uses, for example pranks or theatrics) but the fraudulent use. And as I have noted, such fraudulent use can already be dealt with using policies set by the state and employers in the agreements that they have with any counterparties whom they wish to deter from fraudulently using such substances.

The third reason I oppose the bill is that the long history of drug prohibition has shown that prohibition does not work. Criminalization has not slowed or stopped drug abuse, and in fact by virtually any measure drug abuse and the black market for drugs has only gotten worse since the prohibition of drugs in the 20th century. We should be repealing these ineffective laws, not doubling down on them by making them more stringent.

For these reasons, I ask that you reject this bill in its entirety.

Thank you for your time.

SB29: relative to the health risks associated with dispensing high-concentration marijuana in alternative treatment centers

Hello, this is John Light again, here on behalf of only myself from Manchester, New Hampshire. Thanks again for the opportunity to speak.

I am here to oppose SB29 for two reasons:

The first reason that I oppose the bill is the generally paternalistic nature of the bill. It is true that some people who consume cannabis may experience some negative side effects. But this is true of practically all substances, even water, which all humans need to survive. Yes – it is possible to drink too much water and become seriously ill. The condition is called water toxemia. And yet we do not require permission from the state to drink excessive amounts of water. Why then should we require permission from the state to consume allegedly excessive amounts of THC?

In any case, increased concentration of THC doesn’t necessarily equate to increased danger to the user. The same way you might drink a full bottle of beer but only a shot of gin, a medical cannabis user might smoke a full joint worth of low THC cannabis but only a small vaporizer dose of higher concentrate cannabis. The relevant information is not the potency alone but the potency in combination with the specific dose and method of ingestion, which this bill does not explicitly take into consideration.

The second reason that I oppose the bill is the seemingly arbitrary age limit imposed for consuming allegedly excessive amounts of THC. Although the Statement of Intent points to the Surgeon General’s warning that there is risk to the brains of adolescents ranging from age 12 to 25 years old, the bill puts the age limit for requiring a permission slip to consume allegedly excessive THC amounts at 21 years of age. Are the brains of 21 to 25 year olds not as important as those below 21 years old? What is the rationale for the 21 year old age limit, when the Surgeon General’s warning cited in this bill states there is risk up until the age of 25?

In any case, adults 18 and older should be free to consume substances with allegedly excessive amounts of THC as they and their healthcare providers see fit, without the need for an exception from the government.

For these reasons, I ask that you reject this bill in its entirety.

Thank you for your time, and I’m happy to take any questions.

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