vermont state houseMarijuana reform efforts took an important step forward today in Vermont. The state’s House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill that would decriminalize marijuana for adults. The measure, H. 200, passed in a vote of 92 aye to 49 nay.

Currently, in Vermont possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. The bill would remove criminal penalties for possession for up to an ounce of marijuana and replace it with simply a civil fine. It would remove the danger of receiving a criminal record. Individuals under the age of 21 caught with marijuana would be required to undergo substance abuse screening.

According to the fiscal note the bill could save the state as much as $400,000 a year.

The bill will now go to the Senate where it is also expected to win approval by a similarly large margin.

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) has been a very good on the issue of marijuana reform and called marijuana decriminalization a top priority for this legislative session. If the bill reaches his desk he will sign it into law.

Photo by Norsehorse released under Creative Commons License