Vermont moves toward decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana

A customer heats up a pipe to smoke marijuana oil at Frankie Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia, Washington on December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Nick Adams
A customer heats up a pipe to smoke marijuana oil at Frankie Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia, Washington on December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Nick Adams

Vermont’s legislature on Monday approved a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, a measure the state’s governor expects to sign into law in the coming weeks.

The move sets up the New England state to be the 17th in the United States to remove criminal penalties for having small amounts of pot. It does not go as far as Colorado and Washington, which in November became the first states to legalize possession, cultivation and use of marijuana by adults for recreational use.

Vermont’s House of Representatives on Monday gave final approval to a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult possession of up to one ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana and instead penalize with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Persons under age 21 caught with pot would be required to undergo substance abuse screening.

The House’s action upheld changes to the bill last week by Vermont’s Senate, including a provision that decriminalized possession of up to five grams of hashish, a potent pot derivative.

“I applaud the legislature’s action to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “Vermonters support sensible drug policies. This legislation allows 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.”

A spokeswoman said the governor will sign the bill into law “within a few weeks.”

Currently in Vermont, possessing up to two ounces of pot is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for later offenses.

The measure was introduced in early February by state Representative Christopher Pearson of Burlington, with 38 co-sponsors from the Democratic, Republican and Progressive parties. A similar proposal also was introduced in the Senate.

The latest proposal is similar to “decriminalization” laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense, said NORML, a group that supports marijuana legalization.

Five other states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio — treat marijuana possession as a fine-only misdemeanor offense, NORML said.

Alaska also imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, after action by its state Supreme Court, said NORML.

Vermont already had legalized pot for medical use in 2004.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…