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Steve Winter
State Representative District 3

March  18, 2012
"Contraceptives and Marijuana "

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).


"Cowardice asks, is it safe? Expediency asks, is it politic? Vanity asks, is it popular? But conscience asks, is it right?" 
– William Morley Punshon

Two bills stirred considerable controversy at Thursday’s session of the full House. Here are the reasons I voted to pass both bills.

HB 1546 originally was innocuously titled "recodifying the laws relative to religious societies" but there was a full bill committee amendment which changed the title to add "and adding a religious exemption to the insurance mandates relative to coverage for contraception." The first part merely cleaned up statute language regarding gender references, clergy prerogatives, etc. The amendment, however, added the sentence "No employer shall be required to include in its (insurance) coverage for its employees the provisions of this section if the employer has a religious objection" to three different sections of the bill.

I voted for this bill because I believe the mandated coverage to be unconstitutional. Catholics and other denominations have prohibitions on contraception. Forcing them to offer a product for their employees that is prohibited by their precepts is an unconstitutional intrusion into their faith. The refusal of these churches to comply doesn’t make contraceptives unavailable. They can be purchased at any pharmacy. The choice to use or not use these products remains with the individual.


But that choice doesn’t extend to requiring anyone, especially religious employers, to provide the product for free. “Democrats have called this vote ‘an assault on women’s rights.’ So Democrats now believe that compelling others by law to provide insurance coverage for contraception is a right?” (Manchester Union Leader)

We would all pay for that "right." And in the case of single women, why must I pay for contraception to facilitate illicit sexual activity. In general terms, people have the right to conduct their lives in any way that doesn’t harm others. But they have no right to make the rest of society pay for their choices.

HB 1526 lessened the penalties for any person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana. This bill passed by 262-261 and has been a long time coming. The War on Drugs has, without doubt, been a complete failure just as prohibition was in the 1920s. We have spent billions and billions of dollars trying to change behavior, have impacted other countries in our zeal, and facilitated drug cartels.

As a result, our young people who see the pitfalls of marijuana no differently from those of alcohol are criminalized and marked for life, not by the weed that they smoke but by their government. This bill reduces the penalty for possession of less one-half ounce from a misdemeanor to a violation for the first offense.

It is time to end this madness. It is time to move toward medicalization of this product. Marijuana is proven to be beneficial for pain, appetite and other recuperative aspects of AIDS, cancer, and other medical adversities. I would like to have it available if I am afflicted with any of these conditions.


Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319

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