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Civil Fines For Marijuana

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
H.150 is a bill to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana (1 oz. or less) a civil penalty, with a $100 fine, rather than a criminal offense. If it involves a juvenile under the age of 18, the parents or guardian would be given a citation. In actual cases, this makes more sense than the current practice, which usually involves no jail time but can result in a criminal record. (Current Vermont law calls for six months jail time and a $500 fine.) This practice creates a dangerous situation where possession of small amounts of marijuana under state statutes can be arbitrarily enforced and could lead to police abuse of power. Also, reducing possession to a civil fine would let law enforcement concentrate on more serious, violent crime rather than arresting, booking, and prosecuting non-violent citizens.

A January 2009 Mason-Dixon poll found that 63 percent of Vermont voters support the above change while only 27 percent oppose it. Moreover, 12 other states have similar decriminalization laws with no apparent increase in use, according to the National Research Council. This includes such conservative states as Mississippi and Nebraska, along with California, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and others.

H.150 has been courageously sponsored by 19 legislators; the bill is currently in the House Judiciary committee chaired by William Lippert. They need your support to move this bill forward. Many, if not most politicians, are reluctant to support decriminalization as they consider it a political "hot potato." It is therefore necessary for our legislative representatives to get feedback from their constituents on this issue. All are listed on the Vermont Legislative Web site.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Times Argus
Author: Jerry Kilcourse
Copyright: 2009 Times Argus
Contact: Contact Us: Times Argus Online
Website: Civil fines for marijuana: Times Argus Online
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