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.
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
Women's March for Dignity say they are demanding lawmakers support paid sick day policies for all workers.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:31 AM EST2014-03-08 13:31:36 GMT
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. His office says Governor Peter Shumlin will be at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. While theMore >>
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>