Last Friday, the Vermont House gave an early approval to a proposal that would issue automatic expungements of cannabis convictions, thus allowing people to possess and also grow more marijuana without the risk of getting jailed for a longer time than is allowed.
In the bill, people who have been convicted for cannabis possession for amounts up to 2 ounces, 4 fully grown marijuana plants and 8 immature plants before January 2021 will have their records cleared automatically, and the individuals who are granted expungements will be notified through the mail.
Despite the state legalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the growing of 2 plants in 2018, possessing a second ounce of marijuana or 3 plants is still considered a felony. If the new bill is passed, this would change.
The legislation also states that from 2021, individuals who have basic marijuana possession convictions will be allowed to deny that record in license, civil rights or employment. This is regardless of whether they have obtained a notice of their expungement being processed or not.
This provision was included by the House Judiciary Committee, which acquired jurisdiction over this legislation after Senate approved the bill earlier in May this year.
Individuals who are caught in possession of the decriminalized amounts mentioned above may face a fine of up to $100 for a first misdemeanor, $200 for a second misdemeanor and $500 for any subsequent offenses.
Matt Simon, who is the political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, New England stated in a recent interview that Vermont had a chance to move forward in terms of cannabis policy and establish an equitable market if S.54 and S.234 were made into laws.
Furthermore, the Senate and the House both approved bills to create a tax-regulated model for cannabis sales. Up until now however, the bills have not been enacted and activists as well as legislators in the state are still calling for the legalization of cannabis sales.
In a draft platform for 2020, Democratic Party insiders from Vermont included plans to legalize cannabis sales and decriminalize drug possession. The document is still subject to change though, based on the comments from delegates and county committees at the party’s meeting Saturday.
Vermont is not the only state pushing for expungement of records. In Virginia, both chambers of the state legislature approved proposals last week that would help individuals expunge prior cannabis convictions from their records.
It is believed that the entire cannabis industry, including The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (CSE: WTER) (NASDAQ: WTER), is pleased that Vermont is pressing ahead with marijuana policy reform.
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