Sept. 17 (UPI) -- New Hampshire officially decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana Saturday, becoming the 22nd state in the country to stop making small amounts of the drug a criminal offense.
People caught with up to 21 grams of marijuana will not face arrest or criminal charges under the new New Hampshire law, but they will be subject to a civil violation and a fine of up to $100 for their first and second offenses and $300 for a third offense.
Under the old law, violators faced up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
The decriminalization bill was signed by Gov. Chris Sununu in July and has been praised by marijuana reform advocates.
"The governor and Legislature both deserve a lot of credit for moving the state forward with this commonsense reform," said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, reported NH1. "Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that 'Live Free or Die' is more than just a motto on a license plate."
The new law will likely result in approximately 80 percent of marijuana cases never going to court, reported WMUR.
'There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession," Simon said in July. "Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and Granite Staters are ready to see it treated that way."