Yesterday, in a 4-1 vote, Vermont’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bill that would reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Under H. 200, which has already passed the House, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana would become a civil offense punishable by a fine rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
Rep. Christopher Pearson
H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Vermont voters support removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replacing them with a civil fine, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in February 2012.
Senators will soon be voting on this bill. If you live in Vermont, click here to send them one last message of support!
Three out of four Washington, D.C. voters would support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe law enforcement resources currently being used by District police to arrest individuals for marijuana possession should be directed toward other crimes.
The poll also found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of District voters would support a ballot measure similar to those approved by voters in Colorado and Washington in November, which made marijuana legal for adults and directed state officials to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. A solid majority (54%) said drug use should be treated as a public health issue, and people should no longer be arrested and locked up for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use.
The survey of 1,621 randomly selected District voters was conducted April 10-11. The full results and crosstabs are available at http://www.mpp.org/DCpoll.
According to a new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, nearly two-thirds of Minnesota voters support changing state law to allow people with serious and terminal illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The poll also found that the majority of voters would disapprove of their county sheriff or county attorney working to defeat such a bill.
Joni Whiting (Center) (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
“Personal medical decisions should be guided by someone who graduated from medical school, not law school or the police academy,” said Joni Whiting of Jordan, whose late daughter, Stephanie, used medical marijuana to relieve the extreme pain and nausea associated with cancer and chemotherapy. “Medical marijuana made life bearable for my daughter in her final months. No elected official should have the power to take that away.”
The results of the statewide survey come as state lawmakers prepare a bipartisan bill that would make it legal for Minnesota residents with debilitating medical conditions to access and use medical marijuana if recommended to do so by their physicians. The bill is expected to be introduced within the next two weeks.
According to a national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, a record high 58% of American voters said they think marijuana should be made legal, compared to only 39% who do not. In addition, 50% of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.
A strong plurality (47%) of respondents said they think President Obama should allow Colorado and Washington to implement the ballot measures approved by voters last month to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. Just 33% said they approve of President Obama using federal resources to prevent them from going into effect. Interestingly, support for the rights of states could be higher, but 46% of Republicans surveyed support the federal government asserting its power over the states.
Download the full poll results here.
Marijuana possession by adults is scheduled to become legal in Washington on Thursday when Initiative 502 officially goes into effect. A similar measure adopted by Colorado voters, Amendment 64, will go into effect no later than January 6. The new laws in Colorado and Washington make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. They also direct the legislatures of both states to create regulations in order to establish a legal market for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults. So far, the federal government has not stated whether it intends to use any resources to interfere with the implementation of the new state laws.
The poll of 1,325 voters asked the same question that has been used by Gallup since 1970 to measure support for marijuana legalization in the country. In October 2011 Gallup found, for the first time, a majority (50%) of Americans supported making marijuana legal. Election results and pre-election polls in Colorado suggest PPP’s automated telephone survey might be a more accurate gauge of support for marijuana legalization, perhaps due to a hesitancy of voters to express their pro-marijuana sentiments to live operators, such as those utilized by Gallup.