The Fight For and Against Marijuana

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The Choice on MarijuanaBURLINGTON – It’s causing quite a stir-up at the state house; Will Vermont legalize the recreational use of marijuana? One Vermont Senator is pushing for exactly that to happen.

 

Sen. David Zuckerman introduced a bill, late February, displaying elements similar to the current laws in Colorado. In the draft, Zuckerman touches upon the legalization of marijuana in the forms of edibles, up to 42 marijuana “lounges” throughout the state, limiting sales of up to an ounce to Vermont residents 21 years or older.

“Is it perfect? Probably not,” Zuckerman says, “that’s why we have a good solid committee process so people can delve into it and make adjustments.”

But what makes the decision to legalization in Vermont a first in our country’s history, is that the verdict will not be left up to the people’s vote, but the Legislators.

Representative, Vicki Strong says, she will not vote for the legalization because, “when we lower the bar and say, hey, marijuana- why not try it? I feel like we are lowering those expectations and as a legislator, I feel that my job is to keep the bar high.”

Some legislatures feel that there may not be a bar at all in high schools around Vermont.

“The fact is that marijuana is easily available to any high-schooler in the state of Vermont. That is the current situation, so prohibition is not working on that front, says Chittenden Representative Sam Young. “Would the other approach be different we don’t really know.”

Vermont’s Commissioner of Public Safety, Keith Flynn, as well as eight other delegates, took a trip to Colorado to observe how the current laws have affected the state. The group met with a variety of individuals and state representatives who are for and against their state’s laws- from law enforcement to Boys and Girls club directors to owners of grow-ops.

After spending two and a half days out west, Flynn says,” One of the best statements that I heard when we were in Colorado was if we are doing it for the revenues, we are doing it for all the wrong reasons and I hope it’s more than the revenue.”

A study done by the Rand Corporation found that Vermont could make between 25 – 75 million in revenues in just the first year. That number is expected to increase due to amount of money tourists would bring to the state.

“Money, this is about the money, says Debby Haskins, the Executive Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana in Vermont (SAM-VT), “this is about the commercialization. I don’t think any amount of money is going to make up what it’s going to cost us humans.” 

Although supporters believe marijuana has no negative effects on users and that it can actually benefit them, Haskins belives, “The drug itself is psychoactive has no benefit whatsoever.”

Another issue on SAM-Vt's list is how the state will market and regulate the product.

“We’re concerned about the commercialization, about how this will change Vermont and how available not just the smoke-able form will be but edibles and vapor pen, and e-pens," says Haskins. "So it brings with it a tremendous amount of regulation.”

When the decision on whether Vermont will legalize the recreational use of marijuana is still unclear. Zuckerman, the bill’s author, believes that decision will not be made this year.