In a 4-1 vote, Vermont's Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bill that would reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Under H. 200, which has already passed the House, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana would become a civil offense punishable by a fine rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, would 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.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Vermont voters support removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replacing them with a civil fine, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in February 2012.
Senators will soon be voting on this bill. If you live in Vermont, click here to send them one last message of support!