Adults now face only a modest fine if caught with a small amount of marijuana in the state of Vermont. Starting today, July 1st, Vermont’s new marijuana decriminalization law officially goes into effect.

Earlier this year the state legislature adopted H.200 and it was signed into law by governor Peter Shumlin (D) last month.

Before today in Vermont possession of a small amount of marijuana was a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, with potentially longer sentences for subsequent offenses. It could result in a criminal record.

Now for adults 21 and over possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will result in only a civil fine. The maximum fine will be $200 for a first offense with slightly higher fines for repeated offenses. People under the age of 21 will also be required to undergo substance abuse screening if caught with marijuana.

This officially makes Vermont the 17th state to either decriminalize or legalize the possession marijuana.

Photo by Coleen Danger released under Creative Commons License