Vermont bill seeks to legalize recreational cannabis in 2017
Although Vermont is recognized as one of the most progressive places on the East Coast, Bernie Sanders' state has been delayed in recreational legalization. With neighboring states like Maine and Massachusetts having made the recreational leap, Vermont no longer has a choice. Lawmakers will reconsider the idea of recreational cannabis this year. A new bill would eliminate the penalties for adults and cultivation at home.
Measure H. 170
Last Wednesday, a new bill was introduced at the Vermont House that would allow adults in the state to possess up to 57 grams of marijuana without penalty. This would eliminate the civil fine that is currently in place. The measure, titled H. 170, would also allow residents to grow up to two mature plants and seven plants on their private property.
The bill is sponsored by three members of the Judicial Committee leadership team, including MP Maxine Grad from Moretown, MP Chip Conquest from Newbury and Tom Burditt from West Rutland. While Grad and Conquest focus on making it possible for residents to legally grow their own cannabis, their Republican counterpart sees the new bill as an opportunity for taxpayers to save money.
“People in the state of Vermont are calling out all the time for the release of non-violent offenders. This legalization is a small part that will do it. In the long run it will save money in the court system and in corrections, ”said Burditt .
End of the repression
Under current law in Vermont, possession of one ounce of cannabis (28 grams) carries a civil fine of $ 200. While 1 to 2 ounces could potentially result in up to six months in prison. However, earlier this year, outgoing Governor Peter Shumlin forgave hundreds of Vermonters who have been convicted of marijuana-related violations.
In addition to the new bill, a separate measure in the Senate that would expand the medical marijuana program. Indeed, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings on the proposal next week. Although the "H170" might not present the most progressive option for recreational legalization. However, the bill is a small step forward, and in the right direction, for Vermont.