On July 1st Vermont’s marijuana decriminalization bill went into effect. Representative Christopher Pearson sponsored House Bill 200 with a tripartisan group of 38 cosponsors. The bill had the support of both the state attorney general and the public safety commissioner. Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed HB 200 into law on June 6.

Under the new law, adult (age 21 and over) possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hash is no longer a criminal offense. Instead, anyone arrested with pot will be fined: $200 for a first offense, $300 the second time around, and $500 for each subsequent time they are caught. Cultivation of pot plants and possession of more than an ounce of marijuana remain criminal offenses. Anyone under 21 caught with decriminalized amounts of pot will be ordered to undergo substance abuse screening.

The Northeast has made great strides in pot policy: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York have also passed bills decriminalizing marijuana possession. Strangely, the Live Free or Die state – New Hampshire – is the last New England decrim holdout.

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