Legislators in Vermont have introduced legislation that would put an end to criminal penalties on small amounts of illegal drugs. The bill, which was introduced last week, states that the dispensation and possession of small drug amounts would be subject to a referral to a substance-use health and screening service or a fine of up to $50 dollars. The legislation, dubbed H. 422, is sponsored by Reps. Logan Nicoll, Selene Colburn and 12 other legislators. Supporters state that the measure offers a public health approach to overdose deaths and drug use disorders.
In an email to a news outlet, Nicoll stated that the state had led in various ways with the approach to substance misuse prevention and substance use disorder treatment. However, Nicoll continued, too many residents of the state were lost annually to substances, adding that instead of treating drug abusers as patients, the state still treated them as criminals
Last month, another legislation H.309, whose focus is to eliminate criminal penalties imposed on fungi and plant-based substances such as DMT, ibogaine, mescaline and psilocybin, was introduced by Rep. Brian Cina. The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which has yet to schedule a hearing for the proposal.
In addition to the aforementioned changes, H. 422 would also set up a Drug Use Standards Advisory Board in the Health Department of the state. The board would be charged with setting personal-use supply and personal-use dosage amounts for regulated drugs. Individuals caught in possession of less than the personal use supply would have to pay a civil penalty of $50. Personal use supply is stipulated in the legislation as the amount possessed for consumption by an individual for any recreational, medicinal or therapeutic use.
During the 2020 November elections, the state of Oregon became the first state to eliminate criminal penalties on all drugs after Oregonians approved Measure 110, which had completion of a health assessment on paying a $100 fine for simple possession replace criminal penalties in the state.
While state legislators from other states have considered reforms similar to Oregon’s, to date no legislature has embraced the change in policy. Apart from lawmakers in Vermont, lawmakers in the states of Virginia, Washington State, Missouri, Kansas, Hawaii and Connecticut are also considering various drug and psychedelics policy reform legislation for this year’s session. Additionally, legislators in New York are currently considering a bill to decriminalize psilocin and psilocybin and a separate measure to decriminalize drugs in the state, which were both filed last week.
As lawmakers in Vermont are discussing how to decriminalize cannabis, several other states are reaping the fruits of full marijuana legalization. For example, the success of Gage Growth Corp. (d.b.a. Gage Cannabis) in Michigan can be seen as a microcosm of legalization in the state. The company employs dozens of people directly and pays ample taxes. Multiply this benefit by the number of licensed operators to obtain a picture of how economies can be transformed by this industry alone.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Gage Growth Corp. (d.b.a. Gage Cannabis) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GAGE
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