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Sorrell: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Should Include Plants

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Vermont’s attorney general wants a marijuana decriminalization bill moving though the House to allow people to grow one or two plants.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell says if the state doesn’t allow Vermonters to grow their own pot it will force them to buy marijuana illegally.

“I see the concern about a commercial grow operation trying to say it’s all for personal consumption," Sorrell says. "But I don’t think you want to foster somebody having to buy marijuana behind a bar in downtown Burlington or Montpelier or wherever.”

Sorrell supports decriminalizing the possession of 1.25 ounces of marijuana. The bill in the House would decriminalize 2 ounces.

But Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn worries that permitting the growth of plants, even in small amounts, would make marijuana more accessible. That provision, Flynn says, would stray from the goal of the legislation.

“It’s clearly just reclassifying the offense from a crime to a civil infraction,” Flynn says. “I think it might be kind of naïve to think that people are only going to grow 1 ounce and then immediately destroy the rest.”

The House and Senate Judiciary committees are taking testimony this week on a pair of decriminalization bills.

Supporters say the legislation would free up police to tackle more serious crimes by making possession a civil offense. Opponents argue it sends the wrong message.

Hinesburg Representative Bill Lippert, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has said the bill is likely to pass this session.