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Vermont Legalizes Marijuana: 5 Quick Facts You Should Know

It's official! Vermont became the ninth state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Monday. The state's Republican governor, Phil Scott, signed House Bill 511 into law after it cleared the state legislature earlier this month. The Green Mountain State joins a growing number of states to remove penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The law takes effect on July 1st. Yet aspiring cannabis connoisseurs should be wary of jumping into the Vermont "bud" business prematurely. Here are five quick facts to know about the state of the law in Vermont. 1. You Can Smoke It Vermonters can possess up to one ounce of cannabis under the new law, a limitation that's in line with recent legalizations in Colorado and Washington State. This limit is intended to permit the recreational use of the drug -- but not large scale supply and cultivation. 2. You Can Grow Some of It The law further removes criminal penalties for having your own marijuana plants. Vermont allows the possession of two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants, enough to permit the green-thumb ganja lovers to keep their own fresh supply at home. 3. But You Can't Sell It The law does not legalize a state marijuana market, however. The governor previously vetoed legislation legalizing the sale of marijuana, which the state is leaving open to further action at a later date. 4. You Need to Be Old Enough to Drink Vermont's decriminalization law only applies to people twenty-one years of age and over. Minors (and a great many college students) aren't included. And there are penalties for selling recreational weed to underage persons too. 5. Federal Law Hasn't Changed Despite state decriminalization, federal law still prohibits possessing marijuana. And, at least where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is concerned, federal prosecution remains a possibility.If you run into legal issues with marijuana in Vermont or another state, contact a criminal defense lawyer for help. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) State Marijuana Laws (FindLaw's State Laws) Vermont Becomes Ninth U.S. State to Legalize Marijuana (Reuters)
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Can You Give Someone Marijuana as a Gift?

'Tis the season for giving, and some of you may be wondering if your gifts can be a little ... greener this year. And while we would love to give you a clear-cut answer on giving the gift of marijuana, the fact remains that pot laws and your ability to give someone pot as a gift will depend on where you, and that person, live. So before you put a bow on that bud, here are some drug laws to keep in mind: State-by-State Statutes Currently the legal status of marijuana is a patchwork of varying state laws overlaid with a nationwide prohibition. (Although federal authorities have said they will allow states to prosecute their own drug laws, you should know that any marijuana cultivation, possession, or distribution remains illegal under federal drug laws.) And even among states that do allow recreational pot sales, regulations may differ: Alaska restricts plant possession: Residents may have six marijuana plants, but only three can be mature and flowering at one time; Colorado sales depend on your residency: Coloradans can purchase 1 ounce of marijuana, out-of-staters can only purchase half an ounce; D.C. doesn't allow sales: While you can possess up to two ounces of marijuana and up to six plants in the nation's capital, the district didn't legalize pot shops or sales; Oregon bans weed delivery: You can possess up to eight ounces of marijuana, but delivery of pot is a felony; Washington pot limited to in-store sales: The state hasn't approved home ownership of marijuana plants. So don't do anything with weed this holiday season before you know the marijuana laws in your state. More Marijuana Mandates Obviously whether you can even legally purchase marijuana will be the first concern when it comes to giving pot as a gift, but even if you can buy it, there are some other restrictions and regulations you may want to be aware of. First off, the feds are still in charge of postal service, so you can't just mail the marijuana to your friends or family. Second, there are legal limits on travelling with pot, and crossing state lines with marijuana is generally a no-no. So just because it's easier to get weed doesn't mean it's easy to give weed. While that special person may appreciate the gift of marijuana, make sure your giving is legal. Related Resources: Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization Overview (FindLaw) Seven States Struggling With Medical Marijuana (FindLaw Blotter) Snoop Dogg Invests in Medical Marijuana Delivery Service (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Does Indiana's Religious Freedom Law Cover Marijuana Church? (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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Legal Options for Marijuana Users Convicted Before Decriminalization

Before states passed laws decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, thousands of people were arrested, convicted, and sentenced to jail for possession. For many who were convicted for marijuana possessions, their crime is no longer a crime under new state laws, which allow adults to possess a small amount of marijuana. However, those already convicted are still in prison serving sentences for outdated law. Is there any legal recourse for those who were convicted before marijuana possession became legal? Ex Post Facto Laws Are Prohibited Under Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, ex post facto laws are prohibited. An ex post facto law is "a law that retroactively alters a defendant's rights especially by criminalizing and imposing punishment for an act that was not criminal or punishable at the time it was committed, but increasing the severity of a crime ... by increasing the punishment for a crime ... or by taking away from the protections afforded the defendant." So, laws cannot be applied retroactively to convict you of a crime that wasn't a crime when you committed it. Retroactive Amelioration Relief Similarly, a new law decriminalizing a crime cannot be used to decrease or end a conviction that occurred prior to the new law's passage, unless the law has a retroactive amelioration clause. For example, California passed Proposition 36 to amend the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when a third felony conviction is serious or violent. Before the amendment, many were sentenced to life in prison for non-violent crimes. The change wouldn't lessen their sentence. However, Proposition 36 also allowed courts to re-sentence offenders currently serving life sentences for non-violent third strike convictions. Proposition 36 allowed for retroactive ameliorative relief. Applying for a Pardon Unlike California's Proposition 36, Colorado and Washington laws decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana possession do not have any retroactive amelioration clauses. Instead, current convicts may be able to get relief by applying for a pardon from their state's governor. Applying for and receiving a pardon is a very hard process and a rare success. If you need help applying for a pardon, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Georgia Legalizes Medical Marijuana: A Roundup (FindLaw's Blotter) Under D.C.'s Recreational Marijuana Law, What's Legal, What's Not? (FindLaw's Blotter) Is it Legal to Search Based on The Smell of Marijuana? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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