Gov. Chris Sununu says he would sign the recreational marijuana bill passed by the state Senate if the House approves it and sends it to his desk. That puts legalized recreational cannabis just one vote away from becoming a reality in the Granite State.

The House is expected to consider the Senate’s version of HB1633 Thursday morning.

Sununu had previously suggested he was amenable to the Senate’s version of the legislation. But during a radio interview on Wednesday, the governor removed all doubt. Asked on WGIR radio if he would sign the Senate’s version if passed, Sununu answered: “I would.”

“I think the Senate version is okay,” Sununu said. “They put some other stuff in there that I wasn’t necessarily looking for, but they’re not deal breakers.”

And Sununu had a message for members of the House of Representatives who are “passionate about this moving forward.” While he is prepared to sign the Senate version, “If they want to make significant changes, then it’s not going to pass. It’s just that easy,” the governor said.

“If the House doesn’t want to do it, they’re going to choose not to do it.”

The Senate’s approach to regulating recreational cannabis differs significantly from the House-passed legislation. Among the bill’s highlights:

  • legalizes adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana;
  • uses a franchise model with 15 licensed retail stores;
  • levies a 15 percent “franchise fee” on monthly total gross revenue;
  • uses the state’s liquor commission to regulate and license retailers;
  • gives municipalities the ability to opt in for a retail location via public vote.

Asked about Sununu’s comment, state Sen. Daryl Abbas (R-Salem) said, “At this point, the decision to pass recreational cannabis rests in the hands of the House. The Senate is at the finish line, along with the Governor’s Office. We are waiting for the House to join us as opposed to sending this bill to a Committee of Conference which would essentially be a death sentence.”

House sources tell NHJournal the fate of the legislation is in the hands of Democrats. If enough of them balk, the bill will fail and supporters of legal weed will be forced to take their chances with the next governor and a new legislature.

Rep. Anita Burroughs (D-Bartlett), a sponsor of the original cannabis legislation, told the New Hampshire Bulletin that the Senate’s changes to the legislation were “a bridge too far.”

“I already know of 50 Democrats who are going to nonconcur, and I think that’s the tip of the iceberg,” Burroughs said. “I’ve been fighting for this for a lot of years, and I never imagined a day where I would vote against a bill that I’ve been sponsoring and working on.”

Sununu said Wednesday that House supporters of legalization should think carefully about the consequences of walking away from this legislation.

“Chances are the next governor is not going to be as open to this,” Sununu said. “If you want this to happen, this is the path. It’s like it’s being handed to you on a silver platter.”