Marijuana policy on the ballot in Vermont?

Many Vermonters say they want to vote on marijuana legalization. In this recent commentary at VTDigger.org, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Matt Simon explains why changing laws by ballot initiative isn’t an option in Vermont. On the bright side, voters are still ultimately responsible for determining the state’s future on marijuana policy, and there are many contrasts to be found in MPP’s Vermont voter guide.

New grassroots coordinators begin working to strengthen our coalition!

We are pleased to announce the addition of two grassroots coordinators to our team. Burlington resident Matthew Tolley ([email protected]) will serve as northern Vermont grassroots coordinator, and Grafton resident Ed Bank ([email protected]) will serve in the same role for southern Vermont. You can check out their bios here.

Matthew and Ed will be working hard in the coming weeks and months to expand our coalition and maintain a presence at events all over the state. They would greatly appreciate your help and support, so please contact the coordinator for your area and let them know if you are available and interested in being contacted about volunteer opportunities. Ed will be the point person for Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor counties; Matthew will be the point person for all other counties.

Here’s Matthew Tolley on his first day of work, collecting email addresses from legalization supporters at a rally for the Johnson/Weld campaign in Burlington!

Tolley at Johnson Weld rally

Vermont Marijuana Regulation Bill Receives Final Approval in Senate, Heads to House

Vermont Senate Gives Final Approval to Bill That Would Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use; Measure Advances to the House of Representatives 

House members will begin working on S. 241, which would end marijuana prohibition in Vermont, after they return from Town Meeting Week

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate gave final approval to a bill Thursday(17-12) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. S. 241 received initial Senate approval on Wednesday. It will now advance to the House of Representatives, which will begin working on it after members return from Town Meeting Week.

“We applaud the Senate for advancing this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Like most Vermonters, most members of the Senate recognize that prohibition is a failed policy. They voted to regulate marijuana because it will make our communities safer.

“We are confident that House members who take an objective look at the evidence will arrive at the same conclusion as their colleagues in the Senate,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. We should be regulating it and controlling it, not forcing it into the underground market.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

A group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont sent a letter to members of the Senate on Tuesday encouraging them to support S. 241. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a similar letter to legislators last week.

On Monday, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed.

Vermont Senate Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill

Vermont Senate Gives Initial Approval to Proposal to Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use 

The Senate must approve S. 241 a second time in order to send it over to the House of Representatives; a vote is expected sometime this week

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate gave its initial approval to a bill Wednesday (16-13) that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. It must approve the measure a second time in order to send it over to the House of Representatives. A second vote is expected sometime this week.

“Vermonters have been yearning for leadership on this issue, and the Senate is really stepping up and demonstrating it,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The senators did not arrive at this vote lightly. They engaged in an exceptionally deliberative process, and like most of their constituents, they have arrived at the conclusion that it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

“The folks who want to maintain prohibition are going to pull out all the stops to try to scare legislators into maintaining the status quo,” Simon said. “We hope the senators will not fall for the scare tactics and remain steadfast in their support for a more sensible marijuana policy. They’re not alone in this — there is strong majority support for this type of legislation in Vermont and nationwide.”

A group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont sent a letter to members of the Senate yesterday encouraging them to support S. 241. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a similar letter to legislators last week.

On Monday, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed.

Yet another Vermont Senate committee votes to end marijuana prohibition

Contact your legislators today!

Today, the Vermont Senate Appropriations Committee voted 4-3 to approve S. 241, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition for adults and create a regulated and taxed system for marijuana production and sale. The bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Next, S. 241 will move to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate, which will probably happen later this week. If it passes there, it will go to the House of Representatives, and the committee process will begin anew after the legislature takes a break for Town Meeting Week (February 29 to March 4).

It’s very important that senators and representatives hear from you today. Please send them an email urging them to support S. 241. If you are able to take a few minutes to personalize your email, that may increase its impact on legislators.

Vt. Marijuana Regulation Bill Poised for Full Senate Vote

Vermont Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Proposal to Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use

As full Senate prepares to vote on S. 241, a new VPR/Castleton poll finds 55% of Vermonters support passing such a law and only 32% are opposed

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a bill (4-3) on Monday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. It is now expected to receive a full Senate vote.

“The Senate has worked diligently and deliberately on this legislation,” said Matt Simon, the Montpelier-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters believe it’s time to end prohibition and regulate marijuana, and it appears most of their state senators agree. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve this commonsense legislation and send it over to the House for its consideration.”

S. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores. It would also create a study commission to examine issues such as edible marijuana products and home cultivation, which would not be allowed under the bill. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. If approved, rulemaking would begin this summer, but the new law would not take effect until January 2018.

Last week, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and two former attorneys general, Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney, sent a letter to legislators encouraging them to move forward with the proposal to end prohibition and regulate marijuana.

“Instead of subsidizing gangs and cartels with a failed prohibition policy, we believe Vermont should focus on reducing the harms associated with marijuana and other drug use through prevention, education, treatment and smart enforcement strategies,” the letter said. “We strongly believe that these goals can best be achieved through regulation, not prohibition.”

The full letter from the attorneys general is available at http://bit.ly/21a6tuc.

Earlier today, Vermont Public Radio released the results of a new poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute that found 55% of Vermonters support passing a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Only 32% said they are opposed. The survey of 895 Vermonters was conducted February 3-17. More information about the poll is available at http://bit.ly/1OqACZz.

 

AG Bill Sorrell joins two former AGs in endorsing S. 241

On Thursday, February 18, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell sent a strongly-worded letter to the General Assembly calling for them to end marijuana prohibition and pass S. 241. The letter was co-signed by former Attorneys General Jerome Diamond and Kimberly Cheney. Here’s how the letter concludes:

Instead of subsidizing gangs and cartels with a failed prohibition policy, we believe Vermont should focus on reducing the harms associated with marijuana and other drug use through prevention, education, treatment, and smart enforcement strategies. We strongly believe that these goals can best be achieved through regulation, not prohibition. Accordingly, we call on the Legislature to pass S.241.

Here’s the story at VTDigger.

Click here to read the full letter.