At today’s State of the State address, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin came out in full support of legalizing recreational cannabis.
“The outdated War on Drugs has also failed, and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws”, said Shumlin. “That’s why Vermont took steps to change our criminal penalties and to institute a well-regulated medical marijuana system that now serves 2,400 Vermonters. This careful approach shows that we know how to regulate marijuana thoughtfully and cautiously, avoiding the pitfalls that have caused other states to stumble where Vermont succeeded. But the black market of drug dealers selling marijuana for recreational use is alive and well, serving over 80,000 Vermonters who reported using marijuana last year.”
Shumlin continues; “These illegal dealers couldn’t care less how young their customers are or what’s in the product they sell, or what illegal drugs you buy from their stash, much less whether they pay taxes on their earnings. That’s why I will work with you to craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”
According to Shumlin, he will insist on five things before signing a cannabis legalization bill;
— First, a legal market must keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids. The current system doesn’t. Our new system must.
— Second, the tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of the illegal drug dealers.
— Third, revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs.
— Fourth, we must strengthen law enforcement’s capacity to improve our response to impaired drivers under the influence of Marijuana who are already on Vermont’s roads.
— Fifth, take a hard lesson learned from other states and ban the sale of edibles until other states figure out how to do it right.
“I understand that the Senate will go first and I look forward to working with Senate Pro Tem John Campbell, Senate Leadership, Senator Sears, and the Senate Judiciary Committee to construct a sensible, cautious bill”, Shumlin says. “We have a history of tackling difficult issues with respect and care, the Vermont way. I believe we have the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right.”
According to polling released in 2014, 57% of voters in Vermont support legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes.