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Accidental Pot Grower, 73, Gets Vt.'s 1st Marijuana Ticket

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By Betty Wang, JD on August 30, 2013 1:34 PM

An accidental pot grower who received Vermont's first civil marijuana ticket blames some mysterious seeds that he found in a box. But the senior citizen with the green thumb says he won't fight his $200 fine.

William Reynolds, 73, of St. Johnsbury, claims that he found the mystery seeds and planted them, not knowing what they were. After the marijuana plant grew to about two and a half feet, police spotted it, confiscated it, and gave Reynolds a ticket, The Associated Press reports.

The ticket was the first of its kind to be issued in Vermont, which decriminalized possession of marijuana July 1. What does this mean, exactly?

Vermont's Decriminalization Law

Vermont's decriminalization law removes criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Instead of facing arrest and possible jail time, offenders caught with less than an ounce of marijuana are instead slapped with civil fines.

According to this new law, first time offenders can be fined up to $200 for possession; repeat offenders pay higher fines. Citations will not show up on a person's criminal record.

Pot Limits Still in Place

But even with Vermont's new pot-decriminalization law, there are some legal limits in place. Possession of more than an ounce remains a criminal offense, for one. Both possession and/or sale of marijuana of a certain amount can lead to hefty fines and possible jail time as well.

Vermont does allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes; qualified patients are exempt from Vermont's civil and criminal pot penalties. But to qualify, the use of marijuana must be to alleviate symptoms or effects of a debilitating medical condition.

In Reynolds' case, he's not a medical marijuana patient, and police say they saw no other indicators of marijuana use at his apartment. There were no other marijuana plants to be found in his possession.

Reynolds told a local newspaper he's not a pot smoker, and was just "playing around" with being a budding gardener, The AP reports. He'll probably think twice before planting any more mysterious seeds.

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