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Feb-15-2012 17:58printcomments

Vermont Voters Support Decriminalizing Marijuana

Majority Wants Legislators to Remove Criminal Penalties for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana.

Medical marijuana

(MONTPELIER, Vt.) - According to a Public Policy Polling survey released today, a majority of Vermont voters are in favor of removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under current Vermont law, the penalty for possession of marijuana is up to six months in jail and up to a $500 fine.

Of those polled, 63% supported replacing criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana with a civil infraction and a fine of up to $150, with no threat of arrest or jail.

The poll also reported that a majority of Vermonters would support politicians who also supported making this change. When asked if they would be more likely to vote for a legislator that voted to replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, 52% reported that they would be more likely to support such a lawmaker. This is particularly relevant in light of a bill currently being considered in the Vermont House, HB 427, which closely mirrors the reform described to respondents in the poll.

Part of the reason behind support for this bill is the perception of danger associated with marijuana as compared to alcohol. Of those polled, 74% responded that marijuana is as safe or safer than alcohol. This perception, which is supported by many scientific studies, only serves to highlight the discrepancy between marijuana and alcohol penalties.

“Vermont voters overwhelmingly believe marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol and that people who possess a small amount should not face up to six months in jail and a criminal conviction,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s time for legislative leadership to bring this sensible proposal to a vote, so that Vermont can focus its limited criminal justice resources on crime with actual victims.”

The results of the poll can be viewed here: mpp.org/VTpoll.

The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the United States, is responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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JeffL February 18, 2012 1:51 pm (Pacific time)

Please support the effort by liking this page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Decriminalize-Cannabis-in-Vermont/333768560000459?sk=wall

JeffLaughlin February 18, 2012 1:38 pm (Pacific time)


M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. February 15, 2012 10:55 pm (Pacific time)

I am constantly amazed at the foolishness of such polls and legislative efforts as proposed throughout the country. Where is the logic behind such propositions? Here, 74% respond that the weed is as safe or safer than alcohol yet the thinking remains it is favorable, somehow, to only lessen the degree of punishment for possessing the weed and keep possession of alcohol nonpunishable. Some days I find myself believing that these "Pot" orgs are deliberately mismanaging their efforts so as to continue collecting sympathetic pot people's money and insure they remain a "Vital Force for Freeing the Weed" for some years to come. Either stand bold for complete legalization or get off the "pot".

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