Vermont passes bill to decriminalize up to ounce of pot possessionMay 13,2013By PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau
MONTPELIER – More than a decade after lawmakers here began pushing for the reform of cannabis laws, the Vermont Legislature has given final approval to a bill that will decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
The House on Monday cast the final vote for a decriminalization bill that now heads to the desk of Gov. Peter Shumlin. The second-term Democrat championed the measure in both his election campaigns, and lauded the Legislature’s work this year.
“I applaud the Legislature’s action to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Vermonters support sensible drug policies,” Shumlin said in a written statement.
While Vermonters aren’t customarily being sentenced to long jail terms for small-time marijuana offenses, the crime does sometimes result in incarceration.
According to statistics provided by the Vermont Center for Justice Research, of the 5,716 people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession between 2008 and 2012, 472 were sentenced to jail time. Nearly 400 landed on probation, and 1,248 had to pay a fine. The data do not distinguish between cases that were standalone offenses and those that were part of a package of charges.
Shumlin said the reforms will allow “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.”
First-time misdemeanor possession offenses currently carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail. The new law would replace criminal sanctions with a $300 fine; the legislation also decriminalizes possession of up to five grams of hasish.
Decriminalization proponents said the effects of misdemeanor possession conviction can have severe consequences even in instances when the punishment is only a small fine. Younger offenders have found themselves unable to qualify for federal student loans and other government benefits as a result of their criminal record.
For the complete story, see Tuesday's Rutland Herald.MORE IN This Just InBy Amy Ash Nixon Full StoryRICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 410 CE, Visigoths sack Rome and it isn't the first time, either; in 1859, Titusville, Pa., the first commercially viable oil well comes in; in 1918, the only World War I battle fought on U.S. soil in Nogales, Ariz. 0Rutland Herald content editor Rich Alcott uploads data direct to your head: On this day in 410... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 410 CE, Visigoths sack Rome and it isn't the first time, either; in 1859, Titusville, Pa., the first commercially viable oil well comes in; in 1918, the only World War I battle fought on U.S. soil in Nogales, Ariz.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE:Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing that pollute ground water and the air we breathe come under scrutiny by researchers who find at least eight fracking chemicals toxic to mammals.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: The craze for Omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement in its most popular form, fish oil, has led to depletion of fish stocks in oceans throughout the world. Is this the beginning of the total collapse of global fisheries?
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Suspects arrested in Killington bear death, Bryanna Allen and Kevin O'Connor report along the Back to School front, Rutland Plywood site remains an active fire scene as debris continues to smolder.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Forests around Chernobyl, even though dead from massive irradiation after nuclear accident 30 years ago, still have not even begun to decompose, natural balance disrupted at microbial level.
- Dogs have their day at White's Pool