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Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin Endorses Marijuana Legalization Bill

vermont peter shumlin marijuana

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Gov. Peter Shumlin and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Richard Sears (D-Bennington) today detailed legislation to cautiously and deliberately legalize marijuana in Vermont. The move comes after the Governor announced in his State of the State Address that he and Senator Sears would work to draft common-sense legislation to better regulate and eliminate the black market for a substance that over 80,000 Vermonters – almost one in eight – already report using on a monthly basis.

“The War on Drugs has failed when it comes to marijuana prohibition,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Under the status quo, marijuana use is widespread, Vermonters have little difficulty procuring it for personal use, and the shadows of prohibition make it nearly impossible to address key issues like prevention, keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, and dealing with those driving under the influence who are already on Vermont’s roads. The system has failed. The question for us is how do we deal with that failure. Vermont can take a smarter approach that regulates marijuana in a thoughtful way, and this bill provides a framework for us to do that.”

In his State of the State Address, the Governor outlined five principles he will insist on in any legislation to legalize marijuana.

  • A legal market must keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids. With 83 percent of Vermont youth saying that marijuana is easy or somewhat easy to obtain, the current system doesn’t do this.
  • he tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of the illegal drug dealers.
  • Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs.
  • Law enforcement’s capacity to improve the response to impaired drivers under the influence of marijuana who are already on Vermont’s roads must be strengthened.
  • The sale of edibles must be prohibited at first.

“The legislation outlined today meets these criteria,” Gov. Shumlin said. “I want to thank Senator Sears for his thoughtful approach on this issue.”

Because Vermont has already taken steps to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, the legislation introduced today does not require repealing any criminal penalties under Vermont law.

On the critical issue of keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage kids, the legislation outlines a number of steps, including:

  • No person under the age of 21 will be permitted on the premises of a marijuana establishment.
  • Advertising and labeling may not be used to appeal to children or youth.
  • Marijuana establishments are prohibited from being located within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center.
  • And civil and criminal penalties will be established for furnishing marijuana to those under 21. Current civil and criminal penalties will also remain in place for those using or possessing marijuana underage.

In order to improve the response to impaired drivers under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, and other substances already on Vermont’s roads, the legislation calls for ten additional law enforcement officers to be trained as drug recognition experts and an additional 25 new State Troopers to be added over the next three years. It also calls for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to expand its public education and prevention campaign to discourage impaired or drugged driving and adds to Vermont’s open container law, preventing its use in a motor vehicle.

Going forward, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee will work with the Department of Health to include prevention provisions and the Senate Finance Committee will work to set a tax rate that undercuts the black market, both priorities of the Governor.

Source: Governor Shumlin press release


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Johnny Green


  1. You don’t have to convince me. I’m on your side. You have to convince 60 year old republicans who think weed is a gateway to social mayhem, which is why we can’t get what we want right now.

    As to Washington:

    Filings for low-level marijuana offenses are down 98% for adults 21 and older. All categories of marijuana law violations are down 63% and marijuana-related convictions are down 81%.
    All of those folks not arrested can fight for their freedom much easier because they don’t have criminal records.

  2. Legalize It 2016 on

    The problem here is that many people will be criminals in this system, most particularly the breeders and growers except those with political connections as well as all of the home growers and medical patients who have to operate their lives outside the system. It’s not very easy to fight for freedom once you have an oligarchy – see Washington State.

  3. Jim Crow still beats Slavery. All marijuana arrests in all legal states fell dramatically after regulation. It’s much easier to fight for freedom once you are no longer a criminal and weed is no longer contraband.

  4. saynotohypocrisy on

    I agree that this would be important progress. But only for people who can afford to buy. It’s outrageous to claim that a substance is safe enough for stores to sell at a profit, creating a big incentive for them to sell as much as possible, but not safe enough for people to grow their own. Utterly bogus corporate supremacism, and all the more offensive because killer alcohol is deemed safe enough to let people manufacture their own. Come on Vermont, end the wanton discrimination against cannabis users once and for all. End the low grade civil war once and for all.

  5. Legalize It 2016 on

    When you are one of the people facing prison time under Jim Crow then Jim Crow doesn’t look very good. Vermont is establishing a state controlled oligarchy. They may never get home grow and most of the producers will continue to face prison time.

  6. I just don’t get folks who would rather live under Slavery than Jim Crow because, heck, Jim Crow ain’t abolition.

    This is monumental. The first legislators in the world to tax and regulate weed. This will have tremendous ramifications throughout the globe. The sky won’t fall and more progress will be made.

  7. Hey guys home grow will come! In wa we legalized in 2012 with no home grow. Currently i can get an oz for $150 at rec stores(20% thc). I can grow under medical and lots of legislation and initiatives for home grow/lower taxes and more stores (better competition). It’ll all come. Once we legalized it was like a flood gate opened. Suddenly it was okay to talk about weed openly here. How wonderful. But how do you get there if you dont take the first step…legalization.

  8. I dont trust him. Jimmy Carter said the same thing in 2012 until he was persuaded by Project Sam.

  9. I’m a Vermonter and Shumlin’s press release which you seem to have swallowed whole is an outrageous betrayal of what the citizens of Vermont actually want and would benefit from. No home growing! This will not work. Shumlin says, “the tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of the illegal drug dealers.” Yet no home growing means the thousands of Vermonters who grow their own will continue to be considered “the black market.” Fuck your retail pot shops.

  10. saynotohypocrisy on

    My understanding is that this won’t include the right to grow your own. That’s an important defect. If alcohol is safe enough to let people manufacture their own, what possible justification is there for treating a much safer substance more harshly?

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