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: State Could Be Next To Legalize Marijuana

Vermont weed.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont's Senate passed a bill last month that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for people 21 and over. The bill easily passed with a vote of 17 to 12; this week it is being debated by the state House.

Laura Subin, Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, has been fighting for the legalization of marijuana in Vermont over the past few years and is finally glad to see the bill make its way through the Senate and now on to the state House.

According to Subin, support for the bill continues to “pour in with large numbers joining the Coalition, liking our Facebook page and wanting to stay informed with updates and alerts from the Coalition.”

Vermont would be the first state to legalize marijuana via lawmakers and not voters.

Vermont state representative Chris Pearson, who penned a House version of the bill, is satisfied with the current legislation.

“The Senate bill would move the state towards a legalized environment for recreational cannabis," Pearson said. "We would tax and regulate it and treat it like we do alcohol and tobacco. It’s not as far-reaching as the bill that I and others introduced, but it’s a big, big step in the right direction.”

The bill up for debate at the House is stricter than the original. It would not allow home cultivation, and penalties for possessing more than an ounce would remain unchanged.

Subin is disappointed in the tight restrictions in the bill, but says it's at least a step closer to making marijuana legal for Vermont residents.

Vermont: Governor Says Marijuana Edibles Make For 'Bad Pot Bill' In Massachusetts

Peter Shumlin.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governor Peter Shumlin wants to legalize marijuana in Vermont before Massachusetts because he does not want Massachusetts' "bad pot bill" to negatively influence his state.

The governor expressed his views in a blog post entitled The Time is Now to Take a Smarter Approach to Marijuana on his official website.

The bill Shumlin supports would ban edibles, unlike the bill proposed in the Massachusetts ballot initiative, which would permit them for recreational users.

“The bill’s approach is in stark contrast to the one proposed in the Massachusetts referendum that will be voted on in November, which would allow edibles that have caused huge problems in other states, smoking lounges, home delivery service, and possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana. Vermont’s bill allows none of that,” Shumlin wrote in his post. “If Massachusetts moves forward with their legalization bill while Vermont delays, the entire southern part of our state could end up with all the negatives of a bad pot bill and none of the positives of doing the right thing."

Jim Borghesani, communications director for The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told the State House News Service: “He seems to focus on edibles as a negative and, unfortunately, I think he’s falling into the same exaggerations when it comes to edibles that a lot of other people have. The problems with edibles in Colorado were pretty much contained to the first year of legal sales. The packaging has been changed, the portioning has been changed. It’s a learning process."

Vermont: Legislature On Track To Be First In U.S. To Legalize Marijuana

Vermont weed.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont could soon become the first US state to legalize recreational marijuana use through legislation and not through a voter initiative. Supporters of marijuana legalization feel this could speed up its acceptance across the nation.

The Senate passed the bill in February; now it goes before state representatives. The bill would allow adults 21 years of age and older to purchase, possess, and use marijuana legally.

The proposal would not allow users to grow their own plants and would not allow the sale of edible marijuana products.

Lawmakers have until the end of May, when the current session ends, to act on the proposal.

The law would require a 25 percent sales tax on the drug, which would fund drug education and law enforcement programs.

State Senator Jeanette White was a sponsor of the bill. "It makes for a much more thoughtful and measured approach," she said. "We got to work out the details, we got to ask the questions first and put the whole infrastructure in place before it happens."

Four states,(Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska,) as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana through ballot initiatives, and voters in four more states, including neighboring Massachusetts, are to vote on legalization in November. The drug remains illegal under federal law.

Vermont: State's First Cannabis-Dedicated Media Platform Launched


Two Vermont-based entrepreneurs have founded what they say is the first cannabis-dedicated media platform in the state, starting with the launch of Heady Vermont, a news and culture site that analyzes and follows pot developments in Vermont and the surrounding region.

“The Vermont media's done a fantastic job of covering statehouse developments and cannabis news,” said Monica Donovan, managing partner and publisher.

“We sensed a need for deeper coverage that can evolve with the interests and needs of Vermonters as we move towards legalization,” added Editor-in-Chief Eli Harrington.

Heady Vermont produces and publishes daily news and media content on its site — including in-depth features, guest op-eds and third party listings. In addition to content and media creation, Heady Vermont promotes community cannabis events and education.

"Heady Vermont is all at once newsworthy, enjoyable and thought-provoking, calling for accountability and fairness in a growth industry that frequently needs to check in with itself," said Donovan. "There exists a highly diverse variety of interests and positions at stake in the cannabis community. I think this is a great chance to give voice to the chorus making up the emerging cannabis scene in Vermont."

Vermont: Marijuana Legazation Bill Receives Final Senate Approval

Vermont weed.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In its final vote on the measure Thursday, the Vermont Senate approved (17-12) the bill that would legalize marijuana for adult use in the state. The bill, S.241, now goes before the House of Representatives who will begin working on it next week.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “We applaud the Senate for advancing this important legislation. Like most Vermonters, most members of the Senate recognize that prohibition is a failed policy. They voted to regulate marijuana because it will make our communities safer."

“We are confident that House members who take an objective look at the evidence will arrive at the same conclusion as their colleagues in the Senate,” Simon continued. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. We should be regulating it and controlling it, not forcing it into the underground market."

The bill would make possession of up to an ounce legal for adults over 21. Marijuana cultivation sites, retail stores, and testing facilities would be tightly regulated. It would not allow homegrown pot or edibles.

According to a poll released by Vermont Public Radio Monday, 55 percent of Vermont citizens support marijuana legalization for adult use.

Vermont: Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization

Vermont marijuana.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legal marijuana was given an initial approval by the Vermont Senate on Wednesday.

After about two hours of debate the approval came on a 16-13 tally of the votes.

Final passage of the bill is expected to be voted on this Thursday by the Senate.

If passed, the measure will allow possession by an adult of up to one ounce, but will not allow edible cannabis products. Licensed growers will able to supply retail cannabis stores, but homegrown cannabis will not be allowed

The no-homegrown provision drew at least one vote against the measure. Senator Rebecca Balint, D-Windham, said she supported legalization in principle. “But I stand here today, reluctantly, to say that I will be voting against this bill … because I believe this bill does not allow room for the homegrown folks in my county and the smaller growers who would like to be part of this new, viable business,” she said.

Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin supports the measure and has pledged to sign off on it. “With over 80,000 Vermonters admitting to using marijuana on a monthly basis, it could not be more clear that the current system is broken,” he said after the vote.

After passage by the Senate, the bill would need House approval and Shumlin's signature to make Vermont the first state to legalize marijuana by state lawmakers, and not through a voter initiative.

U.S.: How Will Marijuana Influence Super Tuesday?


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As Super Tuesday fast approaches, Kind Financial CEO David Dinenberg decided to take a look at the influence of marijuana on the voters in the affected states.

"Most of the Super Tuesday states are historically Red states, and while that might be true today, many of these states are considering passing laws in favor of medical marijuana," Dinenberg said. "Alabama, Georgia, and Texas are considering legislation.

"Others, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, already have medical marijuana and now are considering recreational," Dinenberg said. "Of course, Alaska and Colorado have recreational use."

Dinenberg pointed out that Donald Trump is leading in the polls in every Super Tuesday state that has passed or is considering medical or recreational marijuana. "Mr. Trump is on record supporting states' rights," Dinenberg said. "While he doesn't favor federal legalization, his pro-states' rights just might be enough to fend off his competitors."

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both oppose medical marijuana, according to Dinenberg. "I ask this question to the candidates," he said. "How do you plan on winning an election that 58 percent of the voters disagree with you?"

Vermont: Marijuana Legalization Faces Full Senate

Vermont weed.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Vermont could soon become the first state to legalize marijuana through action by lawmakers rather than through a voter initiative and ballot.

The bill, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, would end marijuana prohibition and begin taxing and regulating cannabis sales.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the proposal this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

House of Representatives Speaker Shap Smith, a supporter of the bill, is confident in expecting Senate passage. He is unsure about what happens when the legislation faces the House of Representatives. “I think that within the next couple of years you’ll see the legalization of marijuana,” Smith said in a recent statement. “Whether it’s this year, I think is an open question.”

In a statement on Facebook Monday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin expressed his support. The full Facebook statement:

Vermont: Faith Leaders Support Legislation To End Marijuana Prohibition


In a letter to state senators on Tuesday, a diverse group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont expressed support for legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. The bill, S. 241, is expected to receive a full Senate vote this week.

In the letter, the faith leaders say they believe they have “a moral obligation to support change” because the state’s current marijuana prohibition laws “have caused more harm than good for the people of Vermont” and they are “disproportionately enforced against the poor and people of color.”

“As those who teach compassion and love, we believe the harm associated with marijuana can best be minimized through a regulated system that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment rather than punishment,” they said. “For these reasons, we support S. 241, the proposal to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in Vermont.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

Vermont: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Proposal


As full Senate prepares to vote on S. 241, a new VPR/Castleton poll finds 55% of Vermonters support passing such a law and only 32% are opposed

The Green Mountain State could become even greener. The Vermont Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday approved a bill (4-3) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. It is now expected to receive a full Senate vote.

“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill.

It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

Vermont: Coalition To Regulate Marijuana To Launch TV Ad Campaign


Campaign Features State’s Former Top Law Enforcement Official

A new television ad featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official speaking out in support of regulating marijuana will begin airing statewide on Tuesday, just as lawmakers are taking a close look at the issue.

The ad — viewable online at — will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

In the ad, titled “Time to End Prohibition (Again)”, former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney draws a comparison between current marijuana prohibition laws and the failed policy of alcohol prohibition.

“We all know that prohibition was a disaster,” Cheney says as images from the era of alcohol prohibition appear on the screen. “It forced alcohol into the underground market, where it was controlled by criminals, and consumers did not know what they were getting. It made us a nation of hypocrites and lawbreakers.

“Marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems,” according to Cheney. “That’s why most Vermonters agree it’s time for a more sensible approach,” he says, referencing a September Castleton Polling Institute poll that found 56 percent of Vermonters support — and only 34 percent oppose — legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.

The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and telling them, “It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont.”

Vermont: Former Attorney General Throws Support Behind Marijuana Legalization


Former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney, a Republican, will throw his support behind the effort to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and appear in online ads set to launch Tuesday that highlight the benefits of regulating marijuana.

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana (VCRM) will hold a news conference Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET in the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont State House to formally announce Cheney’s endorsement, display one of the ads, and express support for the vision Gov. Peter Shumlin laid out last week during his state of the state address.

On Thursday, Gov. Shumlin said Vermont “[has] the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right” in 2016, and he promised state lawmakers he will work with them to “craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”

The coalition’s first ads of the session feature Cheney and highlight the benefits of replacing prohibition with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol. Cheney served as Vermont attorney general from 1973 to 1975. Previously, he served as an assistant attorney general and was elected Washington County states attorney. He has held a variety of other civic positions and is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

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: Milton Medical Marijuana Grow Facility Up And Running


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients in Chittenden County, Vermont, now have access to locally produced cannabis after a grow facility has opened in Milton.

It took some time, reports Terri Hallenbeck at Seven Days, but the Milton grow facility is up and running, accordindg to Shayne Lynn, executive director of the Champlain Valley Dispensary and Southern Vermont Wellness.

Lynn's company runs two of the state's four licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, in Burlington and Brattleboro, and is continuing to use its older growing and testing facility in South Burlington, he said.

State officials turned down Rutland County Organics' request to move their dispensary from Brandon to Williston, hoping to tap into the larger Chittenden County market. State officials were concerned that patients in the Rutland County area would be left without convenient access, according to Lindsey Wells, Vermont's marijuana program administrator.

State dispensaries recently got permission to start home delivery, provided the Department of Public Safety approves their procedures, including safety precautions. Patients have to pick, and stay with, one dispensary (what if they are dissatisfied with the one they pick?), but marijuana delivery services aren't limited by a patient's location in the state.

Vermont: Medical School Delves Into Cannabis Science


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The University of Vermont is offering a course in the science of cannabis, but the professors say they are hobbled by a lack of research on what has long been a taboo topic.

While other institutions have offered classes in marijuana law and policy, the university's medical school is possibly the first in the nation to offer a full course on medical cannabis, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, reports the Associated Press. Other medical schools have touched on the topic.

"What we're trying to do with this course is to sort of demystify this whole subject matter, to try to treat this like any other drug, like alcohol or amphetamines or opioids," said Vermont pharmacology professor Wolfgang Dostmann. "Just demystify the whole thing and say what it is, what is going on with it, how does it work."

The Massachusetts Medical Society is offering online medical marijuana courses including one on pharmacology, but those courses are also limited because of the lack of research on the topic.

Nearly 90 graduate and undergraduate students have signed up for the Vermont class, which is to start in the spring, forcing the professors to expand the classroom twice. The class is also open to the general public, allowing members of the Legislature, or those in law enforcement or medicine, to attend.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Introduces First-Ever Senate Bill To End Marijuana Prohibition


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. The bill is available online at

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so.

Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced medical marijuana legislation, known as the CARERS Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

Vermont: House Speaker Now Favors Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis advocates in Vermont have gotten some major support from House Speaker Shap Smith.

For more than a year, Smith had been undecided on the issue, but now he says he'll work to pass a marijuana legalization bill in the 2016 session of the Vermont Legislature, reports Bob Kinzel at VPR.

Smith had taken a "wait and see" position for months, remaining undecided until Vermont lawmakers could look at the experiences of Colorado and Washington, the two states where voters legalized cannabis in 2012.

Smith is running for Governor of Vermont in 2016, and this legislation could become a campaign issue. He said he thinks it makes sense for Vermont to legalize pot, if it can be done with a thoughtful approach.

"It's clear to me in my discussions with Vermonters that in general, the people in this state probably favor legalization," Smith said on the August 28 Vermont Edition. "And I certainly believe that we can legalize marijuana if we do it right ... we've seen what has happened in Colorado and Washington, and we can learn from their experiences."

Photo of Shap Smith: Angela Evancie/VPR

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Leaves Door Open For Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday hinted at support for marijuana legalization, saying police didn't focus on arresting people for pot when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, indicated an openness to legalization during an online question and answer session on

"I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana [when I was mayor]," Sanders said. "Our police had more important things to do."

Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He said he supports decriminalizing cannabis in Vermont, and is watching the situation in Colorado "very closely."

"Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I'm going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," Sanders said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months."

Sanders, who announced in April that he's running for President, has acknowledged using marijuana when he was younger, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He has been an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, telling Time magazine in 2014 that he had "real concerns" about American drug policy.

U.S.: DuBe Hemp Energy Shot Now Available In Colorado, New Hampshire and Vermont


Algae International Group, Inc., through its operating subsidiary American Seed & Oil Company, on Friday announced an expansion of the previously announced distribution agreement of the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot in Texas and Kentucky. American Seed & Oil will now be selling the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot in Colorado, New Hampshire and Vermont.

"The response to the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot from our distribution network has been extremely positive," said Steven Rash, CEO of Algae International Group and American Seed & Oil. "We went back and asked to expand our distribution network into the additional states because we had unsolicited demand from those states.

"In addition to expanding our retail distribution network, we will soon be adding ecommerce to our website and selling the DuBe Hemp Energy Shot online with other organically certified hemp infused consumer products," Rash said.

The DuBe Hemp Energy Shot is a berry-flavored, all natural, zero calorie, sugar free, gluten free, GMO free energy shot infused with Hemp Pro 70 Protein Powder, "providing smooth energy for hours," according to the company. A DuBe CBD Energy Shot is coming soon, according to the company.

DuBe Hemp Energy Shot Products are herbicide and pesticide free, peanut-free, vegetarian approved, kosher certified, THC-free (NO THC, 100 percent Legal), and tryspin inhibitor free, the company said.

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