A Vermont representative unveiled new data yesterday showing that the Green Mountain state spends more than $700,000 annually to prosecute small-time marijuana offenders.
Calling such expenditures wasteful and ineffective, Rep. Jason P. Lorber (D-Burlington) said he plans to introduce legislation that would decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, meaning it would no longer be a criminal misdemeanor requiring prosecution, but rather a civil infraction similar to a parking ticket. Under Vermont’s current law, the maximum penalty for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is 6 months in prison and a $500 fine.
Thirteen other states have decriminalized marijuana possession in some form or another, and a 2009 Mason-Dixon poll showed that Vermont voters support decriminalization by more than a 2-1 margin.
Earlier this year, MPP backed Democrat Peter Shumlin in his successful bid for governor largely because of his vocal support for decriminalizing marijuana. Once he enters office next year, Vermont will be well positioned to pass this sensible legislation.