Vermont legislators have taken groundbreaking strides to pass legislation that would legalize psychedelics and decriminalize all drugs.
Vermont is making headlines this month – but not because Vermont voters are unearthing Vermont Cheddar or Maple Syrup. This time, Vermont lawmakers have proposed something a little bit more… psychedelic. Four major drug reform bills have been introduced in the Vermont State Legislature to decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, expand harm reduction services, remove criminal penalties for using and selling psilocybin and decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi.
But before Vermont officially enters dreamland, Governor Phil Scott (R) might pull it back to reality. He famously vetoed two more restrained drug policy reforms last year, so who knows what he'll do with this month's proposals.
It looks like Vermont will take the long way around in its shift towards progressive drug policy reform – but better late than never!
What are H.423 and S.119 all about?
Nearly a third of their 150-member House of Representatives have co-sponsored H.423, an all-drug decriminalization legislation sponsored by Reps. Logan Nicoll (D) and Taylor Small (P/D).
H.423| Source Vermont General Assembly
The bill would replace Vermont’s current criminal charges for small-scale possession with a $50 fine and a screening for substance use disorder, while any amounts below personal use thresholds could also be fined.
Rep. Vyhovsky (P/D) has joined forces with ten other senators on the S.119 companion bill, making Vermont on its way to becoming the promised psychedelics land.
Under the current proposal, possessing small quantities of psychedelics would be allowed and criminal records associated with less than these new personal use amounts would be sealed.
In addition to this, Vermont would launch a pilot program to test psychedelic drugs for their chemical composition as well as any contaminants which might be present in them.
Backed by Decriminalize Vermont and Dave Silberman, high bailiff of Addison County, this bill stands to benefit Vermont's citizens in many ways. Despite “serious” obstacles standing between success and failure for the measure, supporters are pledging ongoing support for ending what Silberman referred to as Vermont's “criminal drug war.”
Currently 11 Senators and 47 Representatives including multiple chairs have added their names in endorsement of H.423; truly a clear indication of its growing popularity with constituents.
This is not all. This month, two distinct bills were presented that would take a more focused approach to decriminalizing psychedelics.
Introducing H.439 & S.114
H.439, sponsored by Rep. Brian Cina (P/D), would completely decriminalize psilocybin, mescaline and peyote in Vermont by removing them from Vermont's definition of hallucinogenic drugs.
S.114 ,the other proposed bill by Sen. Martine Gulick (D) would not only remove the famed psilocybin mushroom from Vermont's drug classification, but also take an entire step above her colleague's effort to create a working group dedicated to studying the potential physical and mental health benefits of these substances.
The specific psilocybin bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee for deliberation, while all other related bills have been referred to their respective chamber's judiciary committee. Such services promise to reduce risks associated with ingesting psychedelics and give insight into emerging drug trends in Vermont.
Vermont is once again proving it is not afraid to march forward with progressive reforms that strike a difficult balance between promoting safety and accountability within their communities.
Catch up with other psychedelic reform bills: More and more psychedelic reform bills are in the pipeline throughout the United States.