Thursday, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn illustrated the difference between 1 ounce and 2 ounces of marijuana for the House Judiciary Committee. The legislators are taking testimony on replacing criminal penalties for relatively small amounts of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.
Flynn says any drug reform must include education, rehab, and allow law enforcement to focus on bigger priorities.
"This enables us to accomplish those tasks," Flynn said.
As currently written, House Bill 200 would decriminalize up to 2 ounces of pot, two mature plants and seven immature plants. Tickets would not land on a user's criminal record.
Flynn says he supports decriminalization, but the cutoff should be 1 ounce. He thinks plants could get gardeners into sticky situations.
"If they happen to mature at the same time, we're essentially walking people into a felony conviction and I don't believe that's the purpose behind it," Flynn said.
The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Chris Pearson, says the bill's purpose is to ensure a minor marijuana charge doesn't derail the lives of offenders or consume significant police resources. He says in practice, prosecutors and law enforcement have already implemented a degree of decriminalization.
"But this bill makes sure that the law would be applied equally and evenly across the state," said Pearson, P-Burlington.
Every year about 1,100 people receive misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. The Joint Fiscal Office estimates that streamlining the legal process as proposed could save the state $750,000, as officers and prosecutors spend less time on pot cases. Supporters of the measure say it could also save the futures of young offenders.
Under the proposed law, those under 21 caught with marijuana would face the same process as those caught underage drinking. The law would not alter prohibitions on drugged driving.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 4:46 AM EST2013-12-10 09:46:02 GMT
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store. Police say at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, a man entered the South Main Grocery and displayed a weapon. He left the storeMore >>
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 4:48 AM EST2013-12-10 09:48:36 GMT
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges. David Seastrand resigned in April after four women came forward and accused him of inappropriate actions ranging from sexual contactMore >>
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:18 AM EST2013-12-10 13:18:45 GMT
A non-profit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire. The special vests provide two dozen police dogs protection from both bullet and stabMore >>
A non-profit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:10 AM EST2013-12-10 13:10:07 GMT
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort. A Massachusetts family say their 5-year-old was taking skiing lessons when a snowboard instructor, William Vincent of Montgomery, slammed into herMore >>
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:26 AM EST2013-12-10 14:26:17 GMT
A busy night Monday at the Burlington city council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion. Population shifts have forced the city to remap Burlington's districts to create more equalMore >>
A busy night Monday at the Burlington City Council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:28 AM EST2013-12-10 14:28:42 GMT
Burlington considers plans for the run-down Moran Plant. For 25 years, the coal-fired power plant has stood empty on the Burlington waterfront. A proposed project -- called the "New Moran" -- would beMore >>
Burlington is again considering plans for the rundown Moran Plant on the city's waterfront. More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:30 AM EST2013-12-10 14:30:08 GMT
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, New York apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department. Firefighters arrived at this apartment complex at 25 SpruceMore >>
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, N.Y., apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-10 14:31:04 GMT
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday. About 30 firefighters responded to a blaze at the Champlain Valley Equipment facility on Exchange Street. The Middlebury fire chief says there'sMore >>
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday.More >>