The Green Mountain State
The door in Connecticut is technically not closed for legalization efforts this session. You can still discuss the topic with your representatives. Unfortunately, however, Connecticut missed the opportunity to become the first state in the United States to legislatively approve recreational use of cannabis. The Green Mountain State acted responsibly and decisively to move towards the legalization of small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market. While the end goal to end prohibition is the same, initial change was voted by the people in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Vermont is the first state to have elected officials move towards recreational cannabis on behalf of the constituency. This is a powerful message directed to the Federal government. The time to change is now.
There is an opportunity to slow the hemorrhaging state budget, allowing towns to continue programs and services, reducing the number of state layoffs and creating new opportunities for others by providing a new revenue stream with recreational cannabis. While I would rather see recreation passed on a moral level at the capitol, taxation and revenue generation justification sits well with me. The medical program should remain intact as a staple of how the market should operate. Free market cannabis in not a bad thing. Personal grow rights are paramount to a successful market. Prices and variety will find a beneficial cost point for both the consumer/patient and the retail/dispensary facility. We could see high quality cannabis grows, with no true economic benefit of criminal activity. Education programs should be funded from the tax revenues and supported by the community to undo years of false stereotypes.
Let’s not forget the farmers.
Let us provide Connecticut farmers with an opportunity to grow hemp and cannabis as a crop. It is only a matter of time before de-scheduling or rescheduling occurs federally. Only 13 states have failed to move on some sort of cannabis legalization. With increased demand from say, the Veteran Affairs, the opportunity for local access could be beneficial. Let Connecticut grow. Keep dispensaries and create recreational shops for those who prefer to purchase high quality and safe cannabis.
I’m excited to see the State of Vermont move toward a brighter greener future. You can definitely say they are living up to their state motto, “The Green Mountain State.” I can see an increase of tourism likely soon for the great state of Vermont.
April McCullum of the Burlington Free Press Reports on history being made in Vermont.
Vermont has become the first state to have both chambers of its state legislature approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill.
Vermont’s bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and hint at the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved by the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The bill has already been approved by the Senate and will go directly to Gov. Phil Scott.
Other states have legalized recreational marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state has legalized marijuana through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I think it reflects that Vermont elected officials are more in touch with our constituents than a lot of elected officials in other states,” said Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who has worked on marijuana issues for the majority of his political career. “I think the public is ahead of us, but elected officials tend to be cautious when it comes to change.”
Wednesday’s vote came after the Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to support S.22, which was pitched as a compromise between the House and Senate approaches on marijuana. The proposal incorporates H.170, the House-supported bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or several plants, but delays the effective date one year to July 2018.
The bill also sets up a nine-member commission to study the best way to regulate marijuana in the future.
“There’s no slam dunk of any kind,” said Rep. Barbara Rachelson, D-Burlington, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, speaking about the prospect of a legal marijuana market. “It just is doing work that could be used next year or in subsequent years.”
Opponents of the bill worried that it lacked safeguards to prevent use of marijuana among people younger than age 21.
“The data indicates that our youth are using marijuana more infrequently, and I don’t think we should put that in jeopardy at this point in time,” said Rep. Scott Beck, R-St. Johnsbury, who voted against the bill.
Under the proposal, nine people would be responsible for drafting a system to tax and regulate marijuana and submitting the plan to the Legislature. The end result would need to be a marijuana regulatory system that “increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.”
The Marijuana Regulatory Commission would include the following people: two members of the House of Representatives and one member of the public appointed by House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, two members of the Senate and one member of the public appointed by the Senate’s Committee on Committees, Attorney General T.J. Donovan or his designee, Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts or his designee, and one member appointed by Gov. Phil Scott.
“The administration will be at the table, along with the attorney general and others,” said Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. “With Massachusetts and Maine starting up in 2018, I think we need to continue this conversation.”
Republican Tom Burditt, R-West Rutland, was initially cautious about any legislation relating to government regulation of marijuana but changed his mind and supported the bill in Wednesday’s committee vote. The remaining three Republicans on the committee were opposed.
Gov. Phil Scott, who has repeatedly expressed concerns about marijuana and highway safety. Scott has the choice to sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow it to become law without his signature.
The first-term Republican governor declined to say prior to the House vote on Wednesday whether he would veto the legislation.
“I don’t believe this is a priority for Vermont,” Scott said. “I believe that what we should be doing is trying to find ways to protect those on our highways, deliver a level of impairment that is consistent throughout the Northeast, as well as to address the edibles for our kids, before we move forward with legalization. Having said that, I’m going to review the bill as it’s passed.”
This article will be updated.
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Author: April McCullum , Free Press Staff Writer
Published: May 10, 2017
Copyright: 2017 Burlington Free Press
Address: PO Box 10, Burlington, VT 05402