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Rand Corp. To Study Marijuana Legalization In Vermont


vermont marijuana decriminalizationThe Rand Corp. will be in Vermont next week to study marijuana legalization’s potential effects in Vermont. The study will look at how marijuana legalization would affect Vermont’s economy, individual health, and public safety. The study will involve estimated marijuana usage in Vermont, public health implications, potential drugged driving issues, law enforcement savings from not enforcing marijuana prohibition, and how Vermont would compare to Colorado and Washington. The study was mandated by a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature last session.

Per the Manchester Journal:

The state will pay $20,000 toward the study, which will be augmented by as much as $100,000 in private donations, officials said Friday.

Passed in late April, S.247 eliminated the 1,000-person cap on the number of people who can use medical marijuana dispensaries. The Legislature added a mandate that the state conduct a study on “possible taxing systems” for Vermont, potential costs and benefits for the state, and the experiences of other states. The results of the study are due to the Legislature by Jan. 15.

Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding said the study will cover a much more comprehensive list of topics than tax policy.

Vermont is one of many states that is eyeing marijuana legalization in 2016. The Vermont Legislature could potentially legalize marijuana even sooner. I don’t think that the $20,000 being paid by Vermont is an issue, but the other $100,000 that is being paid by GiveWell might be. With a private entity putting up 5/6th of the cost of the study, I hope it doesn’t skew results or affect how the study is conducted. I don’t have reason to believe that GiveWell has a hidden agenda, but I’m always leery of private entity’s motives when they fund a marijuana study. I’ll post the results of the study once they are available.


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Johnny Green


  1. Ok I have some info on the meetings. The meeting will be held from 3:30-5:30 at the VIT locations around the state. The seats are limited and are first come first serve. The doors will open 1/2 hour before the meetings. THIS WILL BE THE ONLY WAY TO GET A CHANCE TO VOICE YOUR OPINION. It looks like they are limiting info on the meetings to reduce the majority.

  2. The foundation that is funding the other $100,000 appears to be mildly against prohibition. Based on other research they’ve supported (and this is a scant data set) they seem to approach legalization from a harm reduction viewpoint rather than a matter of individual choice. They have funded a lot of studies about ways to reduce drug-related violence and studies about how to optimally legalize cannabis from a tax revenue and public health and well-being point of view. Most of the studies that are relevant to the cannabis issue were done or are being done by one guy, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at UCLA. So I guess this is rather good news; I was half expecting some group of rabid prohibitionists to be forking over the $100,000.

    The source of this funding is important because by providing 5/6 of the study this foundation could easily influence the results or at least the tone of the report.

  3. But most of the points – individual health, public safety, drugged driving, are non-issues that have been disproved over and over. “Estimated usage” is just that, law enforcement savings is again estimated and would be more efficiently done by the law enforcement who actually spend the money and know where it’s spent. The only thing they can realistically compare is exact comparison to other states and what their tax scheme will be. That’s factual information that they could have government interns compose.

  4. When looking into them I found that in 2011 they had posted a study which showed that crime decreased around dispensaries in California and increased when they were shut down. The Los Angeles City Attorney made them take it down “pending further review”. They said it was due to insufficient data and they would release it when they had gathered enough. It was never re-uploaded.

  5. Each state needs a separate study because each state is in totally different circumstances when it comes to marijuana. It’s not just a question of whether or not to legalize, it’s about how to do it effectively. What worked so well in Colorado couldn’t be done in Washington because of totally different systems for regulating medical marijuana before the laws changed. Legalizing in Vermont would come with its own unique set of challenges.

    It’s better that Vermont spends the money now and gets it right from the outset. If they dive in without a plan, and things go seriously wrong, they’ll have handed Project SAM a major win.

  6. ecarlson0703 on

    The Rand Corporation isn’t unbiased or uninfluenced. There are former federal employees on the payroll and they take lots of government money. Their last overpublicized cannabis study showed just that. I’m very skeptical of this outfit because they really aren’t neutral, regardless of how badly they want everyone to believe they are.

  7. Lets hope the people these states choose to run the mystery studies have the intellectual honesty to do the right thing and report the truth. The Minnesota study, for example, is run by many law enforcement and so called “experts” and others that have a financial interest in prohibition. However, they may have a few legit people added to the mix. It will be interesting to see what happens and if conversation data from any minutes are recorded for the books.

  8. Another state with another mystery study intermission. We all know they have google but refuse to use it. At least it may document more corruption for the history books and Hollywood dramas.

  9. My hope is that the folks at Rand aren’t shilling for anyone. Honestly, I know next to nothing about them or their reputation. Perhaps it’s a *good* thing that I’ve never heard of them — no news could be good news.

    It feels so strange sitting here at my desk, hoping that the people at Rand put in charge of this effort will have enough personal integrity to tell the truth, free of bias. Although I suppose I understand the source of the feeling: if Kevin Sabet has taught us one thing, it’s that liars are bought and sold *with ease* for the sake of continuing the drug war.

  10. It is very promising to know folks are seriously considering recreational legalization. I look forward to see the results of the study.

  11. The state will pay $20,000

    Each state needs its own seperate study for what reason? People have already compiled the numbers and the data.

  12. Progress, for sure. I like to think it will be a legitimate report. Remember that Nixon chose the most conservative judge he could find to conduct and oversee a study on marijuana, and while Nixon was deluded into thinking the outcome would be skewed against marijuana as medicine, the study concluded that there was huge potential and marijuana did in fact have medicinal value that far outweighed any adverse affects. Of course that study was buried, but I have a feeling this one won’t be.

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