Marijuana penalties vary in N.H.

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First-time marijuana offenders often are given a break in New Hampshire.

The House recently passed a bill to decriminalize a small amount of the drug. The bill isn’t expected to survive the Senate, but if it did, Gov. John Lynch said he’ll veto it.

Supporters argue marijuana convictions jeopardize students’ eligibility for scholarships and college loans, but changes in federal law have softened penalties against students.

New Hampshire judges and prosecutors say they often give first offenders a break as long as they take a drug education program.

Concord District Judge Gerard Boyle says courts already have the discretion to do what the bill calls for.

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