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Vermont Governor: The Time Is Now To Take A Smarter Approach On Marijuana

vermont peter shumlin marijuana

(image via Wikipedia)

Last month, the Vermont Senate passed a bill to end the failed War on Drugs policy of marijuana prohibition in Vermont. This was a big step forward for our state. Bringing marijuana out of the shadows of prohibition is a smarter approach to regulating a substance that over 80,000 Vermonters admit to using on a monthly basis. It makes no sense that we tell those Vermonters that possessing an ounce of marijuana is no more serious than speeding, but then we tell them they must go buy it from a drug dealer who could care less what else they sell or how young their customers are.

Many Vermonters get this. According to a recent poll from Vermont Public Radio, nearly 55 percent of Vermonters favor legalization, while only 32 percent oppose it. Even many of those who oppose the current legislation recognize that as other states act, Vermont will eventually move forward with legalization. The question has now become not if Vermont should legalize marijuana but when.

On that question it’s time for Vermont to act, and not just because the right policy is to fix the broken system we have now. In the coming years, Vermont could very well end up surrounded by legal marijuana markets as states to our south and east, as well as a country to our north, all move towards legalization. This fall, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to vote on a referendum to legalize marijuana. A poll of Massachusetts voters indicates that a majority support legalization. Colorado, Washington State, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Alaska have all voted to legalize marijuana in similar votes. New Hampshire legislators have been seriously debating legalization legislation, which even passed the House in that state. Canada’s recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize marijuana in that country. Maine and Rhode Island are also considering referendums to legalize marijuana in the coming years.

Vermont has a clear choice. As states nationwide and those close to home continue working to enact smarter policies around marijuana, we can be the first state to do it right. We can lift the veil of prohibition that has prevented us from taking rational steps to address all the issues that come with marijuana use that exist right now, given that one in eight Vermonters uses the substance on a monthly basis. Or we can choose to delay making the right policy choice, continuing to bury our heads in the sand and hope that a policy that has failed for decades will all of the sudden start working.

The stakes are important. The bill passed by the Vermont Senate would represent the most careful, deliberate attempt to regulate marijuana in America. Before passing the bill, the Senate took testimony from experts, asked the right questions, and learned lessons from those states that have legalized marijuana already. The result is a bill to create a system which would represent a huge improvement over the status quo. It would ban the sale of edibles which have caused so may problems in Colorado. It would also allow us to drive out the black market and the illegal drug dealers that come with it, do a better job than we currently do of keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage kids, deal with the drugged drivers who are already driving on our roads, address treatment, and educate Vermonters to the harmful effects of consuming marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes.

That 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. 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.

The choice in front of Vermonters and their elected representatives in the next couple of months is whether we want our state to take a rational step to end an antiquated War on Drugs policy that almost everyone agrees has failed. We can take a smarter approach in Vermont and be prepared for whatever other states around us do. But we must have the courage to do it.

Source: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s Office


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Johnny Green


  1. saynotohypocrisy on

    “Everyone (except for people in utter denial) know that the risk for a significant problem when drunk is pretty darn high. Yet for THC, it is minimal.”

    I agree, as I’ve said. But if you’re a newbie and you take many times more edibles than is recommended, and you don’t have a trusted friend who’s an experienced user to guide you, the risk does goes up somewhat. And sellers and inexperienced users need to know that. I’m pretty sure the Colorado sellers do after these tragedies got everyone’s attention, and because of the publicity the already slight chance this could happen has been much reduced.

  2. The fact is that people do commit suicide every day because of their chronic alcoholism. I have also heard that about 40% of violent crimes are committed by drunks. And a million doses of edibles that I quoted was just about me saying 1 in a million. Maybe it is 10X that amount.. Everyone (except for people in utter denial) know that the risk for a significant problem when drunk is pretty darn high. Yet for THC, it is minimal.

  3. saynotohypocrisy on

    2 murder/suicides out of a million uses really isn’t as safe as it sounds. If you do the math on alcohol use and alcohol related murders + suicides, I think you’ll see what I mean (If 50 million people in this country on an average day use alcohol that would, at an equal level of danger, translate into 100 alcohol related murders/suicides per day, which is about the actual amount including DUI killings).
    I’m more comforted by the hope that the publicity from these tragedies, and the beefed up warnings/packaging changes will make these tragedies much more rare than that.
    Edibles make it possible to be under the influence of far more cannabis than can be vaporized or smoked, and we won’t get anywhere by ignoring that, especially the danger to newbies who can’t tolerate how weed makes them feel, and need to find that out before ingesting a large amount of edibles.

  4. I continually read that a person committed suicide and another person (on a bevy of prescribed psychoactive drugs) murdered his wife. So, we have TWO cases out of a million ingestions. And that is why edibles are dangerous? I think it proves their almost absolute safety.

  5. saynotohypocrisy on

    “not much evidence about whether the ingestion actually was the cause of the violence.”

    To me, they were high on an excessive amount of cannabis, way over the recommended dosage, which edibles make possible to happen, and uncharacteristic violence/recklessness/paranoia erupted. I wouldn’t hesitate to blame it on alcohol if it was alcohol that was involved, and these incidents seem just as clear to me. One looks like an interaction between excessive amounts of cannabis (in a newbie?) and prescription medicine. I think a lot of people have learned a lesson from these tragedies, but it is a very hard way to learn.

    You’re of course correct that alcohol has a very strong connection to violence of various kinds, and problems with cannabis are very minimal in comparison.

  6. saynotohypocrisy on

    I’m busy, and you need to get up to speed, and the last place I can get lumped in with is the reefer madness crew. I did half your work for you, I told you what to search for.

  7. again if it’s that easy..you are the one making the claim..post links to the so easily found stories….if you can’t..then stop making the unfounded claims…it’s that simple…and stop sounding like all the other reefer madness folks who spout off crap and can’t back it up with proof or facts…

  8. saynotohypocrisy on

    Sorry, I don’t feel any need to prove it to you.You can find out for yourself in about 15 seconds if you’re interested. If you copy and paste ‘cannabis related deaths Colorado’ you might be able to do it in 10 seconds.

  9. I never said that??? I simply want you to prove your statements about these “deaths” you claim have happened.. that’s all..

    nothing I have said has condoned or promoted irresponsible use of cannabis…

  10. saynotohypocrisy on

    You’re the one who is ignorant of some basic information on the safety of ingesting large quantities of edible cannabis, especially by newbies. Educate yourself before you speak.

  11. you are the one making claims you can’t support…the burden of proof is on you…

    put up or shutup

  12. saynotohypocrisy on

    No, if you want to stay uneducated about something that is so well known, that’s ok with me.

  13. if it’s so easily found…how about cite the links to these here??? we will be waiting…

  14. saynotohypocrisy on

    Except I wasn’t the one who said it’s a huge problem, I was the one who says he’s greatly exaggerating, though any avoidable death is a huge tragedy. The two deaths that happened soon after legalization were widely reported at the time, the people were under the influence of excessive amounts of edibles at the time of the suicide/accident and murder (prescriptions meds were also a factor in this one), and I see no reason to doubt that the cannabis is implicated. There was a similar suicide/accident in March 2015, and I think another one at the beginning of this year. You can easily look them up, or you can remain uninformed about these significant cannabis related tragedies.

    Cannabis is so incredibly safer than alcohol and tobacco that there’s no need to be defensive about the problems that do exist. If people, especially newbies, ignore the warnings about how much edibles to consume at one time, in rare cases tragedies will result.

  15. There is clear evidence that the people consumed edibles, but not much evidence about whether the ingestion actually was the cause of the violence. On the other hand, if you are looking at 3 / 5,000,000, then the odds are are asymptotic to nil, especially compared with drugs that induce tremendous violence, namely alcohol. I once heard that more than 40% of violent crime is committed by a person intoxicated with alcohol.

  16. There have been several recalls on edibles due to pesticide levels discovered in the products.

    I wish folks like these would stop saying “the ending of prohibition”

    When ANY portion of cannabis is still prohibited like medibles, then it is still prohibited. This is not the removal of prohibition, it is simply allowing us…. “to do a portion of something according to their rules”.

    This is hardly the ending of prohibition, this is actually just the defining of the prohibition.

  17. saynotohypocrisy on

    “NO legalization efforts should go forward without the provision for legal cultivation in one’s home.

    If you mean should as in ‘this isn’t the way it should be’, I of course agree. But if you mean no legalization is better than this half-legalization, I don’t. Especially since VT has no initiative procedure, it’s take whatever the legislature decides to shove down your throat.

    I like the item of Bernie running for Guvnor of NY. Some one has to politically take down that fascist pig Cuomo, his opposition to medical cannabis is killing and torturing people. Someone also needs to do something about corruption in Albany and Cuomo has shown his true degenerate colors on that as well.

  18. saynotohypocrisy on

    The Governor is greatly exaggerating but there have been a couple of suicides and 1 murder linked to people who ignored the warnings, took too much and got higher than they could handle. People, especially newbies, do need to know that you can get a lot higher through edibles than you can through inhaling, and that you have to be a little patient because the edible high takes time to come on.

  19. I still don’t get the supposed “edibles that have caused huge problems” statement. If it’s so huge then why don’t we hear about edible problems every week, every day? We don’t. Ok – sometimes we hear of a kid getting hold of an edible, spending the next day in the hospital, coming home fine and a little wiser for it, but coming home FINE. No one dies, no one goes crazy either. They just over did it. Yet it still looms large in their minds.

  20. NO legalization efforts should go forward without the provision for legal cultivation in one’s home.
    Our government allows for the poisoning of its citizens through the legal use and personal cultivation of tobacco and the legal use and brewing of one’s own alcoholic beverages. Cannabis, certainly after comparing the dangerous properties of tobacco and alcohol, should be legal to cultivate.
    Anything less than this is only a partial victory over the tyrannical laws and prosecution of innocent citizens, who just want to live their life as they see fit — not how the government sees them living it.

    Of course, it goes without saying that we all should respect the rights, freedoms and pursuit of happiness by all other individuals. Impinging, impeding, imposing, threatening or victimizing another individual is how ALL of our laws should be based around — not whether someone is in their own home not bothering any person or even any animal (let’s also ensure to protect our friends against those who think less).

    Do we REALLY think that someone who grows a plant in their own home for their own personal use should EVER be concerned with dealing with legal matters and have their freedom threatened and even taken away ? Up to this point, we know what’s happened and is still happening. I, also, am living proof and I will never forgive my government for treating me like they did.

    I hope that VERMONT arrives at the most liberal laws around cannabis that have ever even been thought of here in the U.S. I hope that VERMONT leads the way for the Northeast (including NEW YORK STATE !) in the progressive movement toward the ERADICATION OF PROHIBITION against American citizens.

    GIVE US THE VOTE —– IN EVERY STATE, and we’ll continuously show OUR government what the PEOPLE want. Yes, the PEOPLE that put you in your career-long, good paying jobs, with excellent retirement benefits. WE did this with the EXPECTATION of YOU REPRESENTING US – the PEOPLE that PAY YOUR SALARY to make sure our VOICE is heard.

    YOU GO, VERMONT ! Show all the others how this issue should be and will be dealt with by little ol’ Vermont — no less !

    GO VERMONT and GO BERNIE ! ! !

    You have many, many supporters in New York State. IF you do not make it to the POTUS position, PLEASE RUN FOR GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK STATE !!! We’d LOVE to have you here instead of King Cuomo !

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