Vt. bill would decriminalize ‘personal amounts’ of drugs

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:25 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers are teeing up a bill that would decriminalize certain amounts of drugs.

The proposal would create a board of experts to determine what a reasonable ‘personal amount’ of drugs would look like. Possession of anything under that amount would be a civil penalty, which could be waived if that person seeks treatment services. Backers of the bill say it shifts drug use and possession to a public health lens instead of leaning on law enforcement and prosecutors.

“The whole question of arresting and prosecuting drug possession -- we’re not seeing a lot of value. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of harm historically,” said Rep. Selene Colburn, P-Burlington.

The bill follows a recent study showing Black Vermonters are 14 times as likely to be prosecuted for drug offenses than whites. Sponsors say the initiative is based on policies in Oregon and in the country of Portugal.

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