Vermont Moves Toward Cannabis Legalization, Expungement

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MONTPELIER, Vt. – A bill that would automatically expunge past convictions for possessing two ounces or less of cannabis passed the Vermont House of Representatives last week. S.234 also would decriminalize possession of up to two ounces and reduce some cannabis penalties. Under current law, Vermonters may possess up to one ounce; between one ounce and two ounces is a misdemeanor. Possessing more than two ounces is a felony.

The bill now heads back to the Senate, which passed the measure earlier this year, for a final vote before being presented for the governor’s signature.

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“Automatic, cost-free expungement of minor cannabis convictions is the right policy, and now is the right time for it,” said Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “This bill recognizes and takes a step towards repairing the horrific legacy of racism in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws. It is also fair, commonsense legislation that will help break cycles of poverty and criminality.”

S.234 is part of the legislature’s slow-but-steady progress toward medical cannabis legalization. Another bill, S.54, would complete the process by establishing a framework for regulating and taxing marijuana. That bill awaits reconciliation and final votes in both legislative houses before proceeding to the governor’s desk.

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