Vermont decriminalization bill signed by Gov. Shumlin!
Vermont became the latest state to decriminalize marijuana possession in 2013. On June 6, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed H. 200, which eliminated the state’s criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and replaced them with civil fines. This is a major victory for MPP and its legislative allies in Montpelier, who have worked hard to build support for this sensible reform.
MPP Legislative Analyst Matt Simon and Gov. Peter Shumlin at the signing ceremony for H. 200.
Click here for details on how H. 200 changed Vermont’s penalty structure.
Leading law enforcement officials supported the bill, including Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn. H. 200 passed the House April 16 in a 92-49 vote and was approved 24-6 by the Senate May 7. The House gave its final approval to the Senate’s amendments May 13. The new law went into effect July 1.
As a result of this reform, Vermont police and prosecutors will waste less time and taxpayer money on enforcing laws against marijuana possession. Individuals caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in the Green Mountain State will be fined but will not receive a criminal conviction. Those under 21 will generally be sent to diversion.
The next step for Vermont policymakers will be to consider legal alternatives to the illicit market for marijuana. The attorney general has publicly argued in favor of decriminalizing plants, and many legislators have openly made the case for legalization and regulation. MPP will continue working with legislators to explore policy options that will work best for Vermont when the prohibition of marijuana is repealed. Please send a message to your legislators asking them to end Vermont’s failed and wasteful war on marijuana.
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Two dispensaries begin serving patients in 2013!
In 2011, with support from Gov. Shumlin, we had a chance to improve on Vermont’s medical marijuana law, and we took it. With the help of patients and advocates throughout Vermont, the legislature passed S. 17, a bill authorizing up to four medical marijuana dispensaries, meaning patients in Vermont will finally have a safe, legal way to obtain their medicine without having to grow their own.
Two dispensaries opened for business in June 2013: Champlain Valley Dispensary is now serving patients in Burlington, and Vermont Patients Alliance is now serving patients in Montpelier. A third dispensary is planning to open in Brandon.
To view the rules for the Vermont Marijuana Program (VMP), please visit the Vermont Criminal Information Center website.
70% of Burlington voters say they support ending marijuana prohibition; bill introduced
In the 2012 general election, voters in Burlington overwhelmingly approved a ballot question indicating support for ending marijuana prohibition. Seventy percent of Burlington voters said “Yes” to this question: “Shall the people of Burlington support the legalization, regulation, and taxation of all cannabis and hemp products?”
For the first time since 2005, a bill has been introduced that would do just that. Sen. Susan Hatch Davis and four co-sponsors filed H. 499, which would allow adults 21 years and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would take marijuana sales off the criminal market and regulate and tax them through the Department of Liquor Control. In addition to creating jobs and revenue from a legal marijuana industry, H. 499 would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp, bringing more agricultural jobs to the state.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Vermont, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.