Belknap delegation breaks 12 to 5 against legalizing pot

CONCORD — When the New Hampshire House of Representatives reversed itself yesterday by scuttling the bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana it passed in January, a majority of the Belknap County delegation voted kill the bill.

In January, the House rejected the recommendation of its Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee by passing House Bill 492 by a mere eight votes — 170 to 162. Then the county delegation split evenly with seven members in favor and seven against with four absent. Since the bill would have taxed retail sales of marijuana it was referred to Ways and Means Committee, which by a vote of 14 to 5 recommended against it.

Yesterday the House followed the recommendation of its committee by rejecting the bill by a vote of 192 to 140 to reject the bill as the county delegation divided 12 to 5 against legalization.

The five county representatives voting against the motion to kill House Bill 492 yesterday were Republicans Bob Greemore and Herb Vadney of Meredith and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, all of whom backed the bill in January, and Democrats Beth Arsenault of Laconia and Ruth Gulick of New Hampton. In January Gulick supported the bill and Arsenault did not vote.

The bipartisan majority of the delegation opposing the bill consisted of nine Republicans — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Charles Fink of Belmont, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia and Colette Worsman of Meredith — three Democrats — Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton. Republican Don Flanders of Laconia was absent and did not vote.

Apart from Burchell, Comtois and Fink, who voted for the bill in January but against it yesterday, the other members of the county delegation voted consistently.