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Vermont Decriminalizes Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use

Vermont joins 16 other states in decriminalizing possession of marijuana by adults for personal use. Civil fines will replace criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish. Anyone possessing marijuana under the age of 21 will be subject to the same treatment as they would be for underage possession of alcohol. Such possession means a court referral for a first offense, possible civil penalties and/or license suspension — in the event of driving under the influence —and criminal penalties for a third offense. In 2004, Vermont legalized marijuana for medical use.

Pennsylvania’s stance on possession of marijuana

Possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania remains a criminal offense with potentially severe consequences:

  • Possession of 30g or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Possession of more than 30g is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
  • First possession charges are frequently eligible for a pretrial diversionary program.
  • Convictions result in Pennsylvania driver license suspensions.

Simple possession arrests accounted for 79 percent of all marijuana arrests made in Pennsylvania in 2007. Based on figures collected for the year 2006, marijuana arrests cost taxpayers $326.36 million, quite a large figure considering that about one million residents admit to smoking marijuana. Although arrests are trending up, the actual number of marijuana smokers in the state is trending down. However, of all drug offenses, marijuana accounts for 43 percent of arrests, only one percent lower than arrests for dangerous drugs like opiates and cocaine.

If you or a loved one is arrested on marijuana possession charges, contact experienced criminal defense attorneys who can help you navigate the court system and ensure you are well represented.

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