Relaxed Vermont pot laws may lead to legalization

In July of this year, Vermont lawmakers took a bold step.

They removed criminal penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Now, 5 months later, decriminalization of pot is generally judged to be a great success in the Green Mountain State, a sentiment which could push Vermont to be the third state in the union to legalize marijuana outright.

“It’s clear that the sky hasn’t fallen since marijuana possession became a fine-only offense in Vermont,” said Matt Simon, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to reforming marijuana prohibition.

“So far the effects appear to have been entirely positive. Rather than arresting individuals who possess small amounts of marijuana, police are now simply writing them tickets,” he told Vermont Watchdog.

Simon was a powerful force in the push to soften the state’s marijuana laws, landing him a spot alongside Gov. Peter Shumlin at the bill’s signing ceremony in June.

Now he sees a great wave of change to come for public safety, state finances and the criminal justice system itself.

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