The Vermont House on Friday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would automatically expunge thousands of low-level marijuana convictions and allow people to possess and grow twice as much of the drug without being charged with a crime.
The two cannabis-related measures were included in a miscellaneous judiciary bill that passed the chamber by an overwhelming margin. Final action is expected next week before it then heads to the Senate, where lawmakers passed a similar decriminalization bill in May and have expressed support for the expungement concept.
“We have approximately 10,000 Vermonters who continue to struggle to live, work, find a house, raise their families and be productive members of society with that cloud of a past nonviolent low-level marijuana conviction hanging over their heads,” Rep. Tom Burditt (R-Rutland) said prior to Friday’s virtual House vote, which was 113 to 10.
The bill is “also a critical component of the movement towards racial justice in cannabis policy,” he added, referencing how marijuana charges have disproportionately impacted people of color throughout the United States for decades.
The bill would automatically clear the criminal records of anyone who was convicted of possessing up to two ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and eight immature plants prior to January 2021. [Read more at Seven Days]