Vermont's Legislature Just Voted to Decriminalize Marijuana


Community College of Vermont / photo on flickr

The Vermont House approved Senate changes to a marijuana decriminailzation bill this morning. The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. According to a Marijuana Policy Project press release, Shumlin will likely sign it "in the coming weeks." 

The whole process took a little over two months. Vermont's marijuana decriminalization bills–H.200 in the House and S.48 in the Senate–were introduced the first week of February. The Vermont House first approved the bill on April 16, the Senate approved it and returned it to the House last week. Today the House approved changes to the bill. Now it goes to Shumlin.

Here's what the legislation does, per MPP:

"[The bill] will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.

Incidentally, Project SAM–the anti-marijuana group launched by former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (R-RI) and former drug czar advisor Kevin Sabet–started a Vermont chapter in late April. Considering that many legalization advocates (as well as the city of Burlington) see Vermont as a good candidate for tax-and-regulate, it's likely that Project SAM will be an active–and loud–participant in that debate.