The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

House backs the decriminalization of marijuana in Vermont

Drug to remain illegal, if passed

(AP) _ On Friday, April 12, the Vermont House advanced a bill that would change the offense of possessing up to an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime to a civil offense similar to a speeding violation.

On roll call vote of 98-44 the House endorsed the bill that would impose a fine up to $300 for anyone caught with up to an ounce of the drug. The bill also contains provisions designed to eliminate future collateral consequences like ineligibility for certain jobs or government benefits for those convicted of possessing up to two ounces, or up to four plants.

Many supporters said their main focus was to keep those found in possession of small amounts from having criminal records.
Others supported the bill seeing it as a small step toward their real goal: legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Opponents said the measure sends the wrong message to Vermont's young people.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, which is also expected to pass it. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports decriminalization of possession of small amounts.

Vermont would become the 16th state to decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, (Washington state and Colorado have gone further and legalized it with restrictions.)