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  • July 1 2013

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    Happy Birthday LSD

    The last time I saw Dr. AlbertHofmann, the Swiss chemist who invented LSD, he was keynoting to a packed house in a large auditorium in Basel, Switzerland. It was January 2006, andHofmannhad just turned 100 years old. A small, slightly stooped spry man wi...

  • July 1 2013

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    Vermont Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect Today

    Following the governor’s signature on Thursday, Vermont became the latest state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    On June 28, Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed House Bill 200 into law. The law, which goes into effect July 1, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with civil fines. First-time offenders will face up to a $200 fine, while repeat offenders cannot be charged more than $500 per offense.

    The governor has been a vocal proponent of marijuana policy reform for years, and announced his support for the bill after it passed through the Senate last month. “Vermonters support sensible drug policies, “ he said. “This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities.”

    The measure has been popular among voters and state officials alike: the House and Senate approved the tripartisan-sponsored bill with large majorities; numerous public officials, including Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn and Attorney General William Sorrell, testified in its favor; and 63% of Vermonters expressed support for decriminalization in a 2012 poll.

    Matt Simon and Gov. Shumlin at VT decrim signing 06062013

    Gov. Shumlin and MPP’s Matt Simon

    MPP’s Matt Simon applauded the law, saying, “This is a much-needed step forward toward a more sensible marijuana policy. Nobody should be subjected to life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

    Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004 and is now the 17th state to eliminate the threat of jail for simple possession.

  • July 1 2013

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    Vermont: Cannabis Decriminalization Measure Now Law

    Legislation reducing marijuana possession penalties in Vermont became law today.

    Under the new state law, penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older have been amended from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. The law also decriminalizes possession of less than five grams of hashish.

    Vermont’s new law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states – Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio – treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

    Three states – Alaska, Colorado, and Washington – impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.