Vermont: Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

Members of the Senate this week approved legislation to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties. On Tuesday, Senators voted 24 to 6 in favor of a House measure that amends penalties for the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. House members had previously signed off on a slightly different version of the bill in April.

House members must sign off on the Senate’s changes to the bill. It will then go to Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has publicly expressed support for liberalizing the state’s marijuana possession penalties.

If signed into law, the measure will take effect on July 1, 2013.

Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)

6 thoughts

  1. Stop going after patients and spend more time trying trying to find women kept chained up by lunatics.

  2. Our law enforcement encarcerates for victimless crimes with a zeal bordering on insanity. Building a concenses amongst LEO opponents is merely concidered another unbinding challenge.

  3. Without a provision to grow pot for personal use it’s still a lame law. Where is the logic that you can now possess pot,smoke pot, but you must still commit a crime to buy it!This law does nothing to prevent crime. Still it’s a good start.

  4. Many states are taking baby steps towards sanity, but it’s progress.

    Yet the federal government refuses to budge, even when it’s in the hands a man like Obama who should have ordered the DEA to allow medical research to reclassify the plant.

    It appears that marijuana Prohibition will end with a whimper, as states rediscover and reclaim their 10th amendment rights.

  5. This does nobody any good and still suggests that there is something inherently wrong with adults obtaining, selling, using marijuana. We’ve had decrim on the books in Ohio for decades and there’s still high paranoia to the point that if you’re not a high school student it’s hard to find a regular dealer. These types of useless measures also do nothing to legitimize selling it, as the penalties for selling are still pretty severe, considering the benign nature of the substance in question. Which ironically means that it’s easier for minors to get pot than it is for adults. Is this backwards or what?

  6. With any change to legislation you have to begin at the beginning. This is a good start. Words have turned into actions… Its vermont and you can do what you want.

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