Vermont Lawmakers Whiff on Pot Law


Last month, we covered Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s statement that legalizing marijuana is what “enlightened” states do. Even for a place as historically liberal the Green Mountain State—Bernie Sanders represents it in Congress—that was a fairly bold stance for a sitting governor to take. But his reasoning was sound. Here’s what he told Time

“We decriminalized an ounce or less, so you virtually get less of a criminal penalty for buying [small amounts of] pot than you do speeding on the highway. Although we wish you wouldn’t smoke pot, just like we wish you wouldn’t drink too much, we’re going to let you do it without getting in trouble with the law—but you still have to go buy it from a drug dealer?”

That said, by Shumlin’s own logic, the Vermont legislature isn’t very enlightened.

This week, representatives had the opportunity to make recreational marijuana legal for adults, but overwhelmingly shot the measure down. According to the Canabist, the vote was 128 against, 28 for. While two states—Colorado and Washington State—currently have legal marijuana measures on the books, both were the result of ballot initiative voted on by citizens, not proactive actions undertaken by politicians.

But while the measure’s defeat delays any wide-scale reform, it doesn’t mean the prospect of legalization is dead in the Vermont.  Far from it. Because as the Canabist reported:

“Some House members said they support legalization, but opposed the Senate language. They argued that the Senate-proposed system of licensing and taxing growers and retailers—and banning homegrown—was too commercial an approach for Vermont.”

The desire to not go too commercial with the approach is actually great news for small businesses, and could help prevent an onslaught of carpetbagging corporations from storming into the state and creating de-facto monopolies before the ink on the new laws is dry. Right now, that’s a real concern in California, so it’s encouraging to see governments looking to prevent that situation from arising—even if it takes a little longer to for Vermont citizens to toke freely.

[ via Canabist ]

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