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Vermont Decriminalizes Minor Possession Of Marijuana

Vermont has officially become the 17th state to eliminate criminal penalties for minor possession of Cannabis.

Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed the bill into law Thursday, which will remove the criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis or less than five grams of hash by adults 21 or older.

“Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana.”– Gov. Peter Shumlin

Violations will be punishable by a civil penalty similar to a traffic ticket coupled with a fine. Those under the age of 21 will be summoned to court and possession offenses will be treated similar to underage alcohol.

Other punishments include referrals to court diversion program for first offenses, possible license suspension (for , and criminal penalties for third time violators.

Although medical marijuana has been legal in Vermont since 2004, possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis was a misdemeanor previously punishable by a six to 24-month jail sentence. First time offenders could’ve spent up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years for any succeeding charges.

“This change just makes common sense,” said Shumlin. “Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana.”

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