Vermont is one step closer to legal marijuana after the state House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that legalizes marijuana possession and cultivation for adults 21 and over. Legalizing cannabis is a very difficult endeavor that requires a ton of work to break through decades of Reefer Madness propaganda and the lobbying efforts of law enforcement, Big Pharma and other prohibitionists. It is even harder to legalize cannabis when, like Vermont, your state doesn’t have the initiative process that allows you to take the issue straight to the voters, who are always ahead of politicians on the issue.
Vermont, with a progressive voting population, may just be the first state to end criminal penalties for personal cannabis thru the legislative process. Vermont’s legalization proposal, H. 170, is similar to Washington, D.C.’s cannabis law in that it merely ends criminal penalties for personal use, but would not set up a regulated market like those that have flourished in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
H. 170 must pass the full House, the Senate and survive a potential veto from Republican Governor Phil Scott, so there are still plenty of hurdles to climb. With 57% of Vermont voters supporting legalization, here’s hoping that the elected officials abide by the will of their constituents and we can add to the growing number of states that have ended harmful criminal penalties for personal cannabis use.
The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana issued a press release regarding the successful passage of H.170 by the by the state House Judiciary Committee:
Vermont House Committee Approves Proposal to End Marijuana Prohibition; New Poll Shows Strong Public Support
H. 170 is expected to receive a full House vote soon; a statewide survey conducted this week found 57% of Vermont voters are in favor of the bipartisan proposal to eliminate penalties for personal marijuana possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The state House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 8-3 Wednesday that would make personal possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older.
A new statewide poll finds a substantial majority of Vermont voters are in favor of the policy change proposed in H. 170. Fifty-seven percent said they support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Only 39% are opposed. The Public Policy Polling survey of 755 Vermont voters was conducted March 20-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%. The results are available at https://www.mpp.org/VTpoll.
“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”
H. 170, sponsored by Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Vice Chair Charles Conquest (D-Wells River), and ranking Republican Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.
The bill is expected to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives soon. If it passes, it will be considered by the Senate, which approved a measure to regulate marijuana for adult use in 2016.
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The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is a broad coalition of citizens, organizations, and businesses working to end marijuana prohibition in Vermont and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateVermont.org