By Dan Tuohy

A group that wants to end marijuana prohibition, and to have pot be regulated like alcohol, has endorsed conservative Republican Frank Edelblut and liberal Democrat Steve Marchand for governor.

It is the first formal major endorsements in New Hampshire from the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that advocated for the state's medicinal marijuana law and continues to fight for decriminalization of small amounts of pot.

The endorsements are twinned with the Marijuana Policy Project's voter guide for the state primary, which is Sept. 13.

The group also endorsed former state Sen. Jim Rubens, a Hanover Republican who is challenging U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, in the GOP primary, based in part on Ayotte's past opposition to decriminalization.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, has similarly opposed decriminalization.

"Any of the Democratic candidates would be an upgrade from Maggie Hassan," said Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

The New Hampshire Legislature considered another bill earlier this year for lowering the penalty for first-time possession, including language to make one-quarter ounce a violation, rather than a Class A offense, but the decriminalization went nowhere.

(c)2016 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)