Thisis provingto be a big year for cannabis. As a result, we are ranking the fifty states from worst to best on how they treat cannabis and those who consume it. Each of our State of Cannabis posts will analyze one state and our final post will crown the best state for cannabis. As is always the case, but particularly so with this series, we welcome your comments.We are now approaching the top of our list. The remaining states all have legalized medical marijuana. The criminal penalties in the remaining states range from bad to good, but many have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. This week we cover state number 13: Vermont.
Our previous rankings are as follows: 14. Rhode Island; 15. Kentucky; 16. Pennsylvania; 17.Delaware; 18. Michigan; 19. New Hampshire; 20. Ohio; 21.New Jersey; 22.Illinois;23.Minnesota; 24.New York; 25.Wisconsin; 26.Arizona; 27.West Virginia; 28.Indiana; 29.North Carolina; 30.Utah; 31.South Carolina; 32.Tennessee; 33.North Dakota; 34.Georgia; 35.Louisiana; 36.Mississippi; 37.Nebraska; 38.Missouri;39.Florida; 40.Arkansas; 41.Montana;42.Iowa; 43.Virginia; 44.Wyoming; 45.Texas; 46.Kansas; 47.Alabama; 48.Idaho; 49.Oklahoma; 50.South Dakota.
Criminal penalties.Vermont has decriminalized the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, categorizing it as a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. Possession of 1-2 ounces earns a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison and a fine up to $500. A subsequent conviction for possession of this amount earns a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and a fine up to $2,000. Possession of between 2 ounces and 1 pound earns a maximum of 3 years in prison and a fine up to $3,000. Possession of 1-10 pounds earns a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. Possession of over 10 pounds earns a maximum term of 15 years in prison and a fine upto $500,000.
The sale or distribution of cannabis is punished based on weight, as follows:
- Less than 1/2 ounce earns a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- 1/2 ounce to 1 pound earns a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
- 1-50 pounds earns a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000.
- Over 50 pounds earns a maximum sentence of 30 years a fine up to $1,000,000.
The penalties for the sale or distribution of cannabis increase if sold or distributed to a minor.
Medical marijuana.Vermont first legalized medical marijuana in 2004. The TherapeuticUse of Cannabis Actallows patients to possess up to two ounces of cannabis. Adoctor must diagnose a patient with a debilitating medical condition. The patient must register with Department of Public Health and obtain an authorization card. A patient must establish a bona fide health care professional-patient relationship with the doctor authorizing marijuana use. This means that the doctor must have treated the patient for at least six months prior to recommending cannabis. However, a patient suffering from a terminal illness, cancer with distant metastases, or AIDSmay establish this relationship without having to wait six months.
Vermont recently expanded the conditions that qualify a patient for medical cannabis. Patients placed in hospice care and patients suffering from chronic pain or glaucoma now qualify for medical marijuana use.The Cannabist reports that GovernorPeter Shumlin had a compelling reason to expand Vermonts medical marijuana program:
In signing the bill, Shumlin said opiate addiction has become a severe problem in Vermont and around the country. He says if ...