When it comes to selling legal weed in New Hampshire, there’s only one customer who matters:

Gov. Chris Sununu.

Coming on the heels of last week’s legislative subcommittee vote advancing a bill to fully legalize the recreational sale and use of cannabis to Granite State adults, the New Hampshire House of Representatives is slated to vote Thursday on its passage.

But friends and foes alike acknowledge that, whatever final form of the bill might take out of the state Senate, it’s got to be able to earn the support of Sununu, who’s been less than enthusiastic about legal marijuana sales in his home state.

Sununu’s opposition is one reason the Granite State remains the last state in New England to legalize marijuana use. The 49-page bill before the House would allow anyone age 21 or older to buy cannabis products at approximately 15 sites scattered statewide.

The legislation up for a vote Thursday would impose a 10 percent state tax on a marijuana shop’s monthly gross revenue and allocate 65 percent of the total proceeds to a state public education fund.

State Rep. Erica Layon (R-Derry), a prime sponsor of the legislation, told NHJournal she thinks the bill has a good chance of passing and added that it’s “one of the most bipartisan projects” she’s been a part of.

Layon said that while the state market would be limited to 15 stores, shops would be spaced out according to population (limited to one location per a 15,000-person community, with no single municipality opening more than two). There would be opportunities to expand if the policy is successful.

“We worked to build a framework where cities and towns can ultimately decide if a location is right for them,” Layon said. “New Hampshire being an island of prohibition in New England has been a problem.

“I think this would be a really good way to address slowly launching cannabis sales in a state-controlled model.”

Opponents to the legalization proposal meanwhile say they plan on greeting lawmakers Thursday morning with a demonstration outside the State House.

“The point is not to sway House legislators because many have chosen to ignore the data on how recreational marijuana legalization harms every state it touches,” Sue Homola, a former state lawmaker from Hollis who is a member of the organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told NHJournal. “The goal is to dispel the myth legislators keep peddling, which is that everyone wants legalization.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has previously opposed legalization. In an editorial board meeting with Foster’s Daily Democrat in October 2018, Sununu called recreational marijuana “just Big Tobacco 2.0.”

“It is a multi-multi-billion dollar business that’s trying to wedge its way into American culture,” Sununu said.

In a gubernatorial debate the following month prior to his reelection, Sununu cited the state’s opioid addiction crisis as a major factor in opposing recreational marijuana legalization.

“When you’re talking about the single-biggest health crisis that this state has ever faced with drugs, full-blown legalization of marijuana, now is not the time,” Sununu said. “The idea that we want to legalize something just so we can tax it, I think that’s the absolute wrong direction.”

Fast-forward to May 2023 when Sununu, in a statement, acknowledged New Hampshire was now the “only state in New England where recreational use is not legal” and cited polls indicating that “a majority of our residents support legalization.”

Sununu now calls commercial legalization “inevitable” and says his goal now is for New Hampshire to keep marijuana sales “tax-free to undercut the cartels’ continued efforts to drive NH’s illicit drug market.”

State Rep. John Hunt (R-Rindge), chairman of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, talked about the legislation with radio host Drew Cline on WFEA radio.

Hunt said he expects the legislation to pass the House but stressed, “It’s just a matter of whether the Senate will have the stomach to work on it.”

“The senators are not known to do a lot of that detailed work,” he said. “And they’ve been opposed to it.

“It’s a matter of whether they really want to spend some political capital to fix this bill or not, and again, I would not hold my breath.”

“I’m more amazed at how many reps have come up to me and said they take a gummy before they go to bed,” Hunt said with a laugh.