Vt. lawmakers seek to soften criminal penalties for drug addicts

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Lawmakers in Vermont are considering legislation that would soften criminal penalties for the possession of heroin and other drugs.

Progressive Burlington state Rep. Selene Colburn says drug addiction is a public health issue and harsh criminal penalties aren't conducive to recovery. Vermont Public Radio reports a bill previously introduced by Colburn that would turn felony possessions into misdemeanor crimes.

The bill has the backing of Democratic state Attorney General T.J. Donovan, who says the existing statutes sometimes draw no distinctions between addicts and people profiting from their disease.

Colburn says the legislation would also create a new felony crime, called possession with intent to sell.

The bill failed to meet a legislative deadline, but Colburn says the House Judiciary Committee may add it as an amendment to another bill.

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