UPDATE 1:48 p.m.: After three hours of debate, the Vermont House votes 98-44 to make it a civil offense to possess one ounce or less of marijuana.
ORIGINAL POST 11:50 a.m.: Supporters of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana appear poised to clear a major hurdle. The Vermont House is set to vote today on a bill that would make it a civil offense – rather than a criminal one – to possess one ounce or less of the drug.
If the bill is passed into law, no one could knowingly possess more than one ounce of marijuana or cultivate marijuana plants.
Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, the lead sponsor of the bill, says, among other things, the measure would free up police to tackle more serious crimes, including Vermont’s opiate epidemic.
Opponents have said it would send a terrible message about drug use to young people.
On the House floor, Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, proposed an amendment that would require marijuana decriminalization expires after three years. That amendment failed, 102-38.