Vermont Moves Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana

May 13, 2013

Vermont’s leg­is­la­ture on Mon­day approved a bill that would decrim­i­nal­ize the pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana, a mea­sure the state’s gov­er­nor expects to sign into law in the com­ing weeks. The move sets up the New Eng­land state to be the 17th in the United States to remove crim­i­nal penal­ties for hav­ing small amounts of pot. It does not go as far as Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton, which in Novem­ber became the first states to legal­ize pos­ses­sion, cul­ti­va­tion and use of mar­i­juana by adults for recre­ational use. Vermont’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Mon­day gave final approval to a pro­posal to remove crim­i­nal penal­ties for adult pos­ses­sion of up to one ounce (28.3 grams) of mar­i­juana and instead penal­ize with a civil fine, sim­i­lar to a traf­fic ticket. Per­sons under age 21 caught with pot would be required to undergo sub­stance abuse screen­ing. The House’s action upheld changes to the bill last week by Vermont’s Sen­ate, includ­ing a pro­vi­sion that decrim­i­nal­ized pos­ses­sion of up to five grams of hashish, a potent pot deriv­a­tive. “I applaud the legislature’s action to decrim­i­nal­ize the pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana,” said Ver­mont Gov­er­nor Peter Shum­lin. “Ver­mon­ters sup­port sen­si­ble drug poli­cies. This leg­is­la­tion allows our courts and law enforce­ment to focus their lim­ited resources more effec­tively to fight highly addic­tive opi­ates such as heroin and pre­scrip­tion drugs that are tear­ing apart fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.” A spokes­woman said the gov­er­nor will sign the bill into law “within a few weeks.” Cur­rently in Ver­mont, pos­sess­ing up to two ounces of pot is a mis­de­meanor pun­ish­able by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for later offenses. The mea­sure was intro­duced in early Feb­ru­ary by state Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Christo­pher Pear­son of Burling­ton, with 38 co-sponsors from the Demo­c­ra­tic, Repub­li­can and Pro­gres­sive par­ties. A sim­i­lar pro­posal also was intro­duced in the Sen­ate. The lat­est pro­posal is sim­i­lar to “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, said NORML, a group that sup­ports mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion. Five other states — Min­nesota, Mis­sis­sippi, Nevada, North Car­olina and Ohio — treat mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion as a fine-only mis­de­meanor offense, NORML said. Alaska also imposes no crim­i­nal or civil penalty for the pri­vate pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana, after action by its state Supreme Court, said NORML. Ver­mont already had legal­ized pot for med­ical use in 2004. Edit­ing by Scott Mal­one and Nick Zieminski Source: Reuters (Wire) Author: Zach Howard Pub­lished: May 13, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Thom­son Reuters

40b6916ae2rge570.jpg 150x62 Vermont Moves Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana

See the orig­i­nal post here:
Ver­mont Moves Toward Decrim­i­nal­iz­ing Marijuana

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