Despite its name, hippie reputation and liberal spirit, Vermont hasn’t always been kind to pot smokers. Now, as the state moves to legalize weed beyond medical use, those punished in the past for marijuana misdemeanors are seeking forgiveness.
On July 1, Vermont will become the ninth state, along with Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana. It will not set up a system to tax or regulate production, but adults will be able to possess an ounce of marijuana, two mature plants and four immature plants.
The law also brings an opportunity for those convicted of marijuana transgressions to have them removed from their records.
Past convictions have led to difficulty finding housing or a job. Some were turned away when they applied for a nursing license or federal student loans, attorneys say. Some can’t get into neighboring Canada.
So prosecutors across the state are doing what they can to help _ just as in many other places that have legalized marijuana, with varying degrees of difficulty.
Glyn Wilkinson, a 70-year-old semi-retired carpenter who ran for the state Senate in 2014 as a Libertarian, and came in last, was among the first to arrive at an “Expungement Day” workshop held last week in Burlington.
He received the first of his two marijuana convictions in 1968-- so far back in the Chittenden County records that the prosecutor’s office had a hard time finding it. He has been turned back at the Canadian border, he said, and was disqualified from buying a firearm.
“Can you really get used to it? You can forget about it, but it never really goes away,” Wilkinson said. “Today it can actually go away.”