Vermont’s marijuana decriminalization law commences July 1
Nearly one month after Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law, H.200, “An Act Relating To Civil Penalties For Possession Of Marijuana”, The Green Mountain State will become the 17th state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
On Monday, July 1, the law exchanges criminal penalties for civil penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish by a person 21 years of age or older. A person suspected of being in violation will be ticketed in the same manner as is currently done with traffic violations.
Larger amounts of the substance, more than one ounce of marijuana, but fewer than two ounces of marijuana, or more than five grams of hashish, or cultivation of any marijuana, will continue to be a criminal offence.
The bill, H.200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson, passed the House of Representatives in April, then soon after in the state Senate.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law June 6.
“This change just makes common sense. Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana,” Gov. Shumlin said.
“This is a much-needed step forward toward a more sensible marijuana policy,” said Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the legislation. “Nobody should be subjected to life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”
“There is still work to be done and support is growing for more comprehensive marijuana policy reform,” Simon said. “Until marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, sales will remain uncontrolled and profits will benefit illegal actors instead of legitimate, taxpaying businesses.
“Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy, and it is time for Vermont to explore the possibility of adopting a new approach,” Simon said.
The bill was also supported by leading law enforcement officials in Vermont, including Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.