N.H. Senate turns down bill legalizing marijuana

New Hampshire won’t join neighboring Maine and Massachusetts in decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana after the Senate rejected what it called a deeply flawed proposal removing criminal penalties for possession of up to a quarter ounce of the drug.

Sen. Donna Soucy, a Manchester Democrat, said Thursday the bill makes restrictions on marijuana possession more lenient than alcohol or tobacco. There are no age parameters in the House-passed bill, so technically children could use the drug. She also said the penalties don’t ramp up for minors who are repeat offenders.

A bill prohibiting the classification of hemp as a controlled substance to be grown for the industrial use of its fibers and seed oil was retained to be studied further.


Lawmakers vote potato official state vegetable

The first-in-the-nation primary state also was the first in the nation to cultivate the white potato, say lawmakers who want to make it New Hampshire’s state vegetable.

After a brief debate over whether a potato is a tuber or a vegetable — Sen. Jim Rausch clarified that it’s a tuberous vegetable — the Senate passed the bill on a voice vote Thursday.

Sen. Russell Prescott thanked Londonderry elementary school students for unearthing the white potato’s history in the Granite State. That history shows in 1719 an Irish immigrant brought a sack of seed potatoes to the area now known as Derry. Virginia challenged that research, but has since conceded New Hampshire was first to grow the white potato.

The bill awaits Gov. Maggie Hassan’s signature.


Spanish professor fired after altering evaluations

An associate professor at the University of New Hampshire has been fired for altering student evaluations of another faculty member.

The university said Thursday that Marco Dorfsman, who teaches Spanish, admitted to intentionally lowering the other faculty member’s evaluations.

Provost John Aber made the decision to fire Dorfsman after the faculty Senate’s Professional Standards Committee unanimously agreed that Dorfsman’s conduct was a serious breach of ethical standards that corrupted an important evaluation process.


Vermont’s largest hospital announces property gift

Officials from Fletcher Allen Health Care say the gift of a 15-acre commercial property in Williston could be used for some non-clinical function of Vermont’s largest hospital.

Fletcher Allen Health Care CEO Dr. John Brumsted announced the gift Thursday, along with Burlington philanthropists Bob and Holly Miller.