vermont legislature

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Vermont: Lawmakers Seen Drinking In Hallway Just Before Voting No On Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When the Vermont House on Tuesday soundly rejected a Senate proposal to legalize marijuana and create a regulated retail market for it -- and even failed to decriminalize possession and cultivation of just two cannabis plants -- their unfortunate lack of political courage didn't shock many political observers.

What was a bit more upsetting, though, was that at least two of the politicians who voted "No" on legalization were seen (and photographed!) drinking alcohol in the hall shortly before the vote, according to multiple sources. Photos tweeted by reporter Neil Goswami depict Rep. Gary Viens (R-Newport) and Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans City) enjoying alcholic beverages at the State House during a 15-minute recess from the marijuana debate.

"Drinking in the State House is cool, according to these people who voted against legal pot," Goswami tweeted.

Both Viens and Parent are widely grinning in the photos, apparently believing themselves to be quite clever in taking a drink in the hall before batting down a bill that would have treated marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Vermont: Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Is 'Enlightened' Thing To Do


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont could make history this spring. As Governor Peter Shumlin nears the end of his term in office, he wants the state to become the first in the union to legalize marijuana through its Legislature.

In an interview with Katy Steinmetz of Time Magazine, Gov. Shumlin said "I think the more enlightened states are trying to get ahead of this one" when it comes to cannabis legalization.

"There is no question America is going to move to a more sensible policy, state by state," Shumlin said.

"We’re all spending huge amounts of energy focusing on the evils of pot smoking and we hardly talk about the fact that in 2010, we sold enough drugs legally through our pharmacies in the form of Oxycontin to keep every adult American high for a month," the Governor pointed out. "That has led to death, destruction, addiction to heroin that’s affecting every state in America. And then we flip out about the possibility that we could move to a more sensible approach to marijuana."

"Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has also talked openly about using marijuana," Steinmetz asked Gov. Shumlin. "Have you ever tried it?" "Yes," Shumlin replied. "I was in Vermont in the '70s... We inhaled."

"I'm hoping that Vermont will be the first state that does it legislatively because we have learned from the states that have made mistakes doing it by referendum," Gov. Shumlin said. "We are trying to pass the first cautious, sensible marijuana legalizing bill in the country."

Vermont: Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In State of the State Address


Gov. Peter Shumlin Declares Drug War a Failure and Calls for Expanded Overdose Prevention and Treatment Access

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday, in his final State of the State address, called on lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing and regulating marijuana.

The Governor also declared the Drug War a failure and expressed desire to continue emphasizing a health-based approach to drug policy by expanding treatment and overdose prevention programs, as well as by removing the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.

"The outdated war on drugs has also failed," said Shumlin, "and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws."

“Pete Shumlin is providing just the sort of leadership we need to see from other governors around the country,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Indeed, it’s a bit surprising, with a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, that he’s the only sitting governor to actively call for it. I’m hopeful this is the start of a new trend.”

Gov. Shumlin stressed that a marijuana legalization measure should contain the following:

• A legal market to keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids;
• Tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of illegal drug dealers;
• Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs;
• Strengthened law enforcement capacity to improve our response to impaired drivers

Vermont: Public Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Scheduled For Wednesday


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A public hearing on the legalization of marijuana in Vermont is scheduled for Wednesday. The hearing will be held statewide via Vermont Interactive Television.

Earlier this year, the Vermont Legislature ordered the administration to study marijuana legalization, with a report due in January, reports the Associated Press.

The state contracted with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center to study the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis.

Wednesday's hearing will be held by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and Beau Kilmer, who co-directs the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

Spaulding and Kilmer will make brief presentations, after which people attending the meeting will be allowed to ask questions and make comments.

Vermont: New Poll Shows Strong Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization


Castleton Polling Institute survey finds 57% support — and only 34% oppose — such a proposal, which will be the subject of a study approved by the Vermont Legislature in April

A strong majority of Vermonters support making marijuana legal for adults, taxing it, and regulating it similarly to alcohol, according to a Castleton Polling Institute survey released on Wednesday.

Such a change in state law would be supported by 57 percent of respondents. Only 34 percent said they are opposed.

“People are fed up with marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and this poll shows most Vermonters want it to be treated that way.”

The Vermont Legislature in April approved a bill that includes an amendment initiating a study to evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol. Gov. Shumlin is expected to sign it into law.

“Just about anyone who reviews the evidence objectively will arrive at the conclusion that prohibition has failed, and it’s time for a more sensible approach,” Simon said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol would replace the underground market with licensed, tax-paying businesses.

"There is a reason why we don't see copious amounts of alcohol being illegally produced and trafficked around Vermont — because it's regulated,” Simon said.

Vermont To Study Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's administration is getting ready to study the fiscal and other impacts of marijuana legalization; the task was assigned by the Vermont Legislature.

Gov. Shumlin said he agreed with lawmakers that "it's timely to do a study," said Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding, reports Dave Gram at the Burlington Free Press,/i>. Spaulding's agency is tasked to report its findings to the Legislature by January 15, 2015.

"We're not going to prejudge what our position would be at the end of it," Spaulding said.

An amendment to a bill whose main purpose was removing a cap on the number of patients who can get medical marijuana in Vermont is responsible for the study. It called for a study of "possible taxing systems" for marijuana, any savings or costs connected with legalizing, regulating and taxing it, the experiences of Colorado and Washington in legalizing cannabis.

Spaulding admitted the Shumlin Administration hadn't yet figured out how to do the study, but then it's been less than a week since the Legislature adjourned. "I know that we're going to take it seriously and we'll probably do a pretty thorough study," he said.

Gov. Shumlin has repeatedly said he wants to see what happens in Washington and Colorado before moving ahead with legalization for Vermont. Spaulding cautioned that the January 2015 deadline for the report may be too soon to answer than question.

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