Archive for the ‘vermont’ category

N.H. House Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

March 7th, 2014
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Rep. Adam Schroadter

On Tuesday, in a 12-5 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would reduce the possession penalty to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. It would also reduce the penalty for possessing up to six plants from a felony to a misdemeanor, and it would reduce the maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses.

Vermont decriminalized marijuana possession in 2013, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England that maintains a criminal penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This makes no sense, especially in a state known as the “Live Free or Die” state.

Vermont Legislature Seeks to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

February 28th, 2014

Vermont’s medical marijuana program has come a long way since the law was first approved by the Legislature back in 2004. In 2011, MPP worked with Vermont legislators and our allies to secure approval for four state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. As a result of that law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the fourth dispensary began serving patients in southern Vermont last Tuesday.

This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.

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Sen. Jeanette White

We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247 would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.

S. 247 has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.

If you are a Vermont resident, please email your senator and ask them to support his sensible bill.

Vermont Health Commissioner Talks Regulation

September 16th, 2013
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Commissioner Harry Chen

Last week brought new hope for making marijuana legal in Vermont, a state that just decriminalized marijuana possession this past summer. Harry Chen, Vermont’s Health Commissioner, indicated support for taxing and regulating marijuana at the end of the week:

Let’s see what happens in other states. We have a grand experiment going on in Washington state and Colorado, certainly in my discussions with officials around the country we want to see what happens in these states when you start to regulate it.

We want to ensure there’s appropriate funding for any dealing with the health effects just like we theoretically have liquor taxes and we do devote some of that money to dealing with the health effects of alcohol. [MPP emphasis added]

Chen’s comments come after Gov. Shumlin (D) said he was open to the idea of marijuana legalization last Wednesday. 

Just last Monday, MPP predicted Vermont to be one of the next 10 states to legalize marijuana use and pledged to support efforts in those states to end marijuana prohibition by 2017.

The Next Ten States to Legalize Marijuana

September 9th, 2013

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Monday it will support efforts to end marijuana prohibition in 10 more states by 2017. The announcement comes one day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary CommitteeUS_Capitol_Dome_resize is scheduled to hold a hearing at which it will address the U.S. Justice Department’s recent decision to allow states to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

MPP will work with local and national allies to pass voter initiatives in at least five states and bills in five state legislatures to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with systems in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. MPP is currently supporting a petition drive led by Alaska activists to place an initiative on the August 2014 ballot, and it will work to pass initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada in the 2016 election. The organization is participating in lobbying and grassroots organizing efforts to pass bills in the Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont state legislatures by 2017. MPP has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000, and it was the largest backer of the successful 2012 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

“Most Americans are tired of seeing their tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute adults for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. “Voters and state legislators are ready for change, and the federal government appears to be ready, as well.”

The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as problematic and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition,” Kampia said. “We look forward to working with elected officials, community leaders, organizations, and other local and national allies to develop more effective and efficient marijuana policies.”

Rob Kampia: What Can We Learn from DOJ Memo?

September 4th, 2013

New Hampshire Becomes 19th State to Allow Medical Marijuana

July 23rd, 2013
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Gov. Maggie Hassan

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill that made New Hampshire the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana!

MPP worked for seven years to bring about this victory. We funded local activists, retained lobbyists in the state capital, employed a full-time staffer outside the state capital, and dedicated significant resources to building public support and generating constituent pressure on elected officials. We also persevered despite our medical marijuana legislation being vetoed twice — once in 2009, and then again in 2012.

The newly enacted law will allow patients with serious illnesses to obtain marijuana from four nonprofit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

Even more exciting, medical marijuana is officially legal in all six states that comprise New England!

Passage of the New Hampshire bill marks MPP’s second major legislative victory this year (we also passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in Vermont), and we have a medical marijuana bill awaiting the signature of Gov. Quinn in Illinois.

Vermont Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect Today

July 1st, 2013

Following the governor’s signature on Thursday, Vermont became the latest state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On June 28, Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed House Bill 200 into law. The law, which goes into effect July 1, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with civil fines. First-time offenders will face up to a $200 fine, while repeat offenders cannot be charged more than $500 per offense.

The governor has been a vocal proponent of marijuana policy reform for years, and announced his support for the bill after it passed through the Senate last month. “Vermonters support sensible drug policies, “ he said. “This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities.”

The measure has been popular among voters and state officials alike: the House and Senate approved the tripartisan-sponsored bill with large majorities; numerous public officials, including Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn and Attorney General William Sorrell, testified in its favor; and 63% of Vermonters expressed support for decriminalization in a 2012 poll.

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Gov. Shumlin and MPP’s Matt Simon

MPP’s Matt Simon applauded the law, saying, “This is a much-needed step forward toward a more sensible marijuana policy. Nobody should be subjected to life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004 and is now the 17th state to eliminate the threat of jail for simple possession.

Vermont: Cannabis Decriminalization Measure Now Law

July 1st, 2013

Legislation reducing marijuana possession penalties in Vermont became law today.

Under the new state law, penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older have been amended from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. The law also decriminalizes possession of less than five grams of hashish.

Vermont’s new law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states – Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio – treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

Three states – Alaska, Colorado, and Washington – impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Two Vermont Dispensaries Begin Serving Patients

June 25th, 2013
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Champlain Valley Dispensary

Vermont’s medical marijuana patients have finally been afforded a safe, legal option that doesn’t require the hassle of cultivating marijuana plants! As reported by The Burlington Free Press, two dispensaries have now opened their doors to patients: Vermont Patients Alliance held a “soft opening” late last week in Montpelier and Champlain Valley Dispensary opened Monday in Burlington.

The Free Press reported that both dispensaries are now open three days a week. A third dispensary has been approved and plans to locate in Brandon. A total of four dispensaries are allowed under the law MPP and our allies worked hard to pass in 2011.

These dispensaries will expand access and make life much easier for many patients. However, there is still room for improvement in Vermont’s medical marijuana law. For example, it only allows a maximum of 1,000 patients to be served by dispensaries. Additionally, patients who designate a dispensary are no longer permitted to cultivate their own plants.

State-regulated dispensaries are now open in the following seven states: NM, ME, CO, AZ, NJ, RI, and VT. State-regulated dispensaries are allowed, but have not yet been selected, in four additional states: MA, CT, NV, and DE. In the District of Columbia, dispensaries should be serving patients soon.

It’s Official: Vermont Becomes 17th State To End Criminal Sanctions For Marijuana Possession Offenses

June 6th, 2013

Democrat Gov. (and NORML PAC recipient) Peter Shumlin today signed legislation into law eliminating criminal penalties for adults who possess personal use amounts of cannabis and/or hashish.

“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.”

The new law amends penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. The law also decriminalizes possession of less than 5 grams of hashish.

Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)

Vermont’s new law takes effect on July 1, 2013.