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Vermont Could Be First Legislature to Legalize Marijuana

Vermont state house

Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin made an unexpected endorsement for marijuana legalization during his final State of the State address last week.

In the speech Shumlin called on the legislature to «“craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”

In a press release today the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana says that former State Attorney General Kimberly Cheney, a Republican, is also ready to push the cause forward.

“I am committed to bringing awareness to the failures of marijuana prohibition and working toward a safer Vermont,” Cheney said. “We can’t expect a different result by doing the same failed action over again. The only hope lies in a fundamentally different approach; without further delay, the Vermont Legislature should move forward with plans to regulate marijuana in 2016.”

Cheney is set to release a longer statement at press conference tomorrow in Montpelier to unveil a series of ads for the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.

Washington DC, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and Washington state all legalized marijuana with ballot initiatives. Only 28 states allow changing the law directly at the polls.

Vermont is further down the process of any state to make the shift through the legislature. The Green Mountain State spent $3 million to study the issue. This included a report issued in 2015 by the RAND Corporation that was a comprehensive review the impact of prohibition and the possibilities for regulation.

Marijuana possession by adults is already decriminalized in Vermont. Arrests decreased by 80 percent. Still there is a healthy underground cannabis economy that remains unregulated and tax free.

«I believe we have the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right,» said Gov Shumlin.