Marijuana

A key panel is sending to the House floor legislation that would require labels on genetically modified food sold in Vermont.

The House Judiciary Committee voted, 7-4, on Tuesday to advance a bill that would prohibit the use of the term “natural” on the labels of foods, while exempting meat and dairy that has been fed genetically engineered grains.

The Vermont House is expected to advance today a bill that allows those who may be in this country illegally to apply for the right to drive.

The bill would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards, allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue IDs that would look different from a regular state license.

The Vermont Senate is set to give final approval on Friday to a bill that's intended to bolster Vermont’s response to prescription drug addiction by providing wider access to the state’s drug monitoring system.

Supporters of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in Vermont are one step closer to their goal.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 4-1,  to advance the House bill that would make it a civil offense – instead of a crime – to possess one ounce or less of marijuana.

Judiciary Chairman Dick Sears was opposed until his Committee amended the bill for the state to treat people under 21 the same for possession of marijuana as for alcohol.

AP/Toby Talbot

It promises to be another busy week at the Statehouse. As the House and Senate burn down the clock on the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers will spend a lot of time on the floor debating spending and policy priorities.

The end-of-life choices bill is back on the calendar this week as the House Judiciary Committee considers a number of amendments.

The push to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana has hit a snag in the state Senate.

A bill passed by the House earlier this month that would make it a civil offense – instead of a crime – to possess one ounce or less of pot could get a makeover in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR/file

Here’s a brief look ahead to the week at the Legislature:

A bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is set for final approval in the House on Tuesday.

Last week, the House voted 98-to-44 for a bill that would decriminalize –make it a civil offense rather than a crime – to possess a limited amount of marijuana.

A bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is expected to come up for a final vote in the House next week before moving to the Senate. VPR's Bob Kinzel talks with Peter Biello about the argument the bill's opponents are making.

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.

Toby Talbot / AP

Supporters of decriminalizing - or even legalizing - the possession of small amounts of marijuana have cleared a major hurdle. The Vermont House voted 98-to-44 on Friday to make it a civil offense - instead of a crime - to possess one ounce or less of pot.

Backers of the bill, again and again, made one thing clear: it would not legalize marijuana.

"I think there are a few of us in the Legislature who support taxing and regulating marijuana, but it's clearly not a consensus," said Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington.

The Vermont House is set to debate legislation that would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil violation like a traffic ticket and a $300 fine.

The measure up for debate today also contains provisions designed to eliminate future collateral consequences like ineligibility for certain jobs or government benefits for those convicted of possessing up to two ounces marijuana, or up to four plants.

It also would target driving while smoking marijuana with a fine of up to $500.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

Lawmakers are set to vote on a bill this week that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for weeks and the bill is likely to pass Tuesday afternoon.

Vermont Lawmakers this week looked at legislation that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. VPR's Bob Kinzel lays out the arguments in favor and against and discusses the likelihood of the bill's passage with Peter Biello.

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