Marijuana decriminalization in Vermont

To the Editor:

Vermont house bill H. 427 "An Act Relating To Penalties For Possession Of Marijuana" would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil offense, like a traffic ticket.

A recent poll showed 63 percent of Vermonters support decriminalization. This bill has the support of Gov. Shumlin and Commissioner of Public Safety Keith Flynn. The Vermont senate has supported similar legislation. According to the Legislature's Joint Fiscal Office, Vermont spent about $716,000 on 801 misdemeanor marijuana charges in 2008. Thirteen other states have decriminalized, including our neighbors Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Maine.

Unfortunately, according to a recent article in the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, this bill is stalled due to the unilateral obstructionism of House Speaker Shap Smith. I urge all concerned to please contact Speaker Smith and politely ask him to allow the bill to proceed. And please write your representative as well. Nobody deserves to have a criminal record over a little pot.


Jeff Laughlin

Barre, Vt.


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