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Everything You Need to Know About New Hampshire’s Drug Possession Laws

  • By: MMM
  • Published: October 17, 2022

In New Hampshire, drug possession is a serious offense. A drug possession conviction can result in you potentially losing your freedom, your job, your relationships, and your civil rights and privileges. It’s important to know what the potential ramifications of these charges can be so you know what your rights are and when to contact a lawyer. 

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately when facing any personal possession of marijuana charge in New Hampshire, even a first offense. The lawyers of Shepherd & Hayes, PLLC can help you figure out how to potentially reduce or mitigate your charges. 

Drugs You Cannot Lawfully Possess in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Controlled Drug Act criminalizes possession or control of any controlled substance without legal authority or a doctor’s prescription. Generally speaking, a controlled substance is any drug listed on the United States Department of Justice’s schedule of controlled substances and regulated chemicals. It includes all drugs most people would instantly recognize as illegal to possess, including:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • LSD 
  • MDMA (“Molly” or “Ecstasy”)
  • Methamphetamine 
  • Opium
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) 
  • Psilocybin (the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms)

The schedule also includes drugs that most people would need a doctor’s prescription or professional license to lawfully possess, such as:

  • Opioid painkillers like Oxycodone, Tramadol, or fentanyl
  • ADD/ADHD medications like Ritalin and Adderall
  • Benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin
  • Hallucinogens used in mental health treatment or religious rituals
  • Marijuana and marijuana-derived products

If you are caught in possession of any of these substances in New Hampshire and the police think you do not have a valid prescription or legal authority to have them, you can (and likely will) be charged with drug possession. Seek the help of an experienced New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer immediately.  

Recreational Marijuana Possession is Illegal in New Hampshire For Now

As of October 2022, it is still illegal to possess recreational marijuana and marijuana-based products in New Hampshire, even if you bought them legally out of state and even if they’re only in personal use amounts.

Do not be misled by the wave of recreational pot legalization that has happened elsewhere in New England recently. Despite rumors the legislature will soon act, recreational marijuana has not yet been legalized in New Hampshire. Instead, New Hampshire has merely lowered some penalties for personal possession of marijuana and of derivative products containing no more than 300 mg of THC (if legally purchased out-of-state and in their original packaging).

Do not discount the potential harm of a personal possession conviction. Your first three offenses for personal possession in New Hampshire are violations punishable by a fine and loss of the marijuana, but your fourth and any subsequent conviction in a three year period can lead to a misdemeanor charge. Any pot conviction can also have life-disrupting consequences, like affecting your ability to drive, hold certain jobs, or attend school. 

Potential Penalties for New Hampshire Drug Possession

New Hampshire law imposes strict penalties for most drug possession convictions. Here is a general overview of what you could face if found guilty of possessing controlled drugs. 

Possession With Intent to Sell

Possession with intent to sell is a felony in New Hampshire. If convicted of possessing a controlled drug with intent to sell it, which is usually determined by the amount of the drug in your possession at the time of your apprehension, a sentence can include: 

  • A maximum term of imprisonment ranging from 3 to 30 years, depending on the drug and quantity involved
  • A maximum fine ranging from $25,000 to $500,000
  • A term of probation

Second and subsequent convictions of possession with intent to sell a controlled drug carry a maximum term of life imprisonment, up to a $500,000 fine, or both. Contact a lawyer immediately if you face any possession with intent to sell charges. 

Simple Possession

Simple possession (i.e., without the intent to sell) can be a felony or a misdemeanor in New Hampshire. Conviction of simple possession carries a range of penalties depending on the drug and amount involved. For example: 

  • For possession of most controlled drugs other than certain prescription medications: up to 7 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, or both; 
  • For possession of certain prescription medications: up to 3 years in prison, a $15,000 fine, or both; 
  • For possession of more than 3/4 ounces of marijuana: up to one year in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both. 

Virtually all simple possession convictions also carry a term of probation. As above, multiple convictions can also result in enhanced terms of imprisonment and higher maximum fines. Do not wait to connect with a lawyer if you face a simple possession charge. 

Other Possession-Related Consequences

Other New Hampshire and federal laws can, and often do, subject people convicted of drug possession to additional charges or penalties. For example, New Hampshire a drug possession conviction can also result in: 

  • An additional misdemeanor charge and loss of your license for up to 2 years, if you possessed drugs in a vehicle
  • An extended term of imprisonment  if you possessed drugs in a school zone
  • Permanent of your right to possess a firearm
  • Temporary or permanent of certain professional licenses 
  • Review and potential revocation of custody of your child
  • Revocation of your immigration status and deportation from the United States.

In addition to these legally prescribed consequences, a New Hampshire drug possession conviction will frequently also result in significant social and financial consequences.

Contact a New Hampshire Drug Possession Defense Lawyer at Shepherd & Hayes, PLLC Today

If you or someone you love has been accused of, arrested for, or charged with any drug possession crime in New Hampshire, your freedom and future may be at risk. Contacting criminal defense lawyers should be your immediate next step in order to get the help you deserve. 

Shepherd & Hayes, PLLC is a team of experienced criminal defense trial attorneys. We can fight to protect your rights when you face a New Hampshire drug possession charge. Contact us online or by phone at (603) 233-1626 for a free consultation today.