Vermont joins 16 other states today that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed H.200 yesterday afternoon, making possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and five grams of hash a civil penalty on part with a traffic ticket for those 21 and up. The maximum fine would be set at $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
The bill also lessens the amount of jailtime time and fine money someone possessing over an ounce would face to six months and $500 in fines.
“When Vermonters do abuse marijuana, let’s make sure it’s a traffic ticket kind of fine and it doesn’t effect the rest of their lives,” Shumlin said. “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.”
Minors caught with under and ounce or five grams of hash would also only face civil penalties, but would have to attend drug prevention courses to keep fines down.
Before the law passed, possession of up to two ounces of cannabis could get you up to two years in jail.