Members of the Vermont House of Representatives have given preliminary approval to legislation to facilitate the automatic expungement of many past, low-level marijuana possession convictions. 

Those convicted of possession offenses of up to two ounces of marijuana would be eligible to get their records automatically wiped clean under this proposal. Once a person’s record is cleared, they will be notified via mail.

The measure would also further depenalize marijuana-related activities involving the possession of between one and two ounces of cannabis and/or the personal cultivation of up to four mature marijuana plants, punishable by a maximum $100 fine for a first offense, $200 for the second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

A separate provision in the bill states that, starting in January 2021, those with such convictions would not be required to disclose the conviction regardless of whether or not they’ve received notice of expungement.

The measure was approved by a 113-10 vote, and a final House vote is expected this week. Then, the measure will head back to the Senate for a final approval vote before being sent to Governor Scott’s desk.

Republican Governor Phil Scott signed legislation in 2018 depenalizing minor marijuana possession and cultivation activities, but in 2019 he expressed opposition toward legislative efforts to expand the law to regulate commercial activities. While some lawmakers seeking to enact retail licensing legislation in 2020 have predicted that they may need to override the Governor’s veto in order to enact the new law, others have expressed beliefs that the Governor has softened his stance on the issue.

This advancement comes just as a bicameral committee of lawmakers are set to reach a compromise on separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults.

Do you live in Vermont? If so, please take a minute to send a message to your lawmakers and Gov. Scott in support of this important legislation.