Vermont Legislature: Will They Be First In The Nation To Legalize Marijuana?

News reports out of Vermont indicate that a major political shift has just occurred that well positions the state legislature to become the first in the nation to end cannabis prohibition and replace with tax-n-regulate policies.

The four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) that have chucked cannabis prohibition have done so by popular vote on binding ballot initiatives passed by citizens, not legislators. Historically, circa 1996, most all substantive cannabis law reforms at the state level have happened because of ballot initiatives, not legislation.Vote marijuana

With national surveys and the vote totals in favor of legalizing cannabis in the four vanguard states equaling similar levels of support–54%–some elected officials have finally ‘got it’ about the need to end cannabis prohibition, if only because it is no longer politically popular.

A state legislature voting in the majority for cannabis legalization, with a supportive governor awaiting passed legislation to sign, has yet to happen in America. Arguably, once a state legislature passes cannabis legalization legislation, this action more so than voter initiatives placed on the ballot by stakeholders in reform (be them civil justice groups or business interests) will likely spark a ‘reefer revolution’ among states that want the revenue and public policy controls that the long-failed federal prohibition does not provide them.

With a largely supportive and anti-prohibtion legislature and governor (in Democrat Peter Shumlin) already in place in the Green Mountain state, the only political impediment was the Speaker of the House Shap Smith, who, in his run up to try to become the state’s next governor, has reversed his public stance on cannabis legalization from undecided to publicly endorsing Vermont legalizing cannabis:

“It’s clear to me in my discussions with Vermonters that in general, the people in this state probably favor legalization. And I certainly believe that we can legalize marijuana if we do it right.” – House Speaker Shap Smith

Will the Vermont legislature be the first one to officially legalize cannabis?

Yesterday’s policy reversal from Speaker Smith almost certainly places Vermont in the lead to do so.

33 thoughts

  1. This would truly make Vermont the “Green” Mountain State, welcome aboard Shap. In related news, staunch prohibitionist Chris Christie is seriously delusional in focusing his efforts on winning the votes of New Hampshire (VT’s next door neighbor) when the majority of NH favors legalization (see http://thehill.com/regulation/249266-marijuana-legalization-popular-with-nh-voters). Jimmy Fallon should have let Christie leave early on 8/31 when Christie threatened to do so, that would have been great.

  2. So does Mr. Smith know how to do it right or is he waiting for more advice?

    1. “Tax-n-regulate”—- now is our chance to THINK TWICE about regulation? Maybe you have seen (or drawn) the Marley cartoon showing how to (single) vapetoke with a flexdrawtube one-hitter.

    (Please memorize and 20x regurgitate: REGULATE Use with 25-mg Utensil.)

    2. Now TWICE regulate with a dwbbleflexdrawtube woodclwnk one-hitter (with a 5.5mm/7/32″ socketwrench or hosenipple screencrater snugmounted on top, same 25-mg regulatory serving size as on single-stem models, and two 11″/27cm pvc tubes out the sides of the woodchunk or block, one in each mouth (Coffin Joe and the Cleaning Lady or any pair you can humorgraphicate with your penvapesize ballpointlet). Post your cartoons on whatever website and lay a green path of thousands of tweets linking to them.

    3. The controversy over the Responsible Ohio mascot suggests this cartoon-based (cheaper than caravans) character for Vermont: out of a smily-faced green mountain head grows a rieferlief like the ones on the emblem above, or a mature plant, or maybe two, as in two horns of dilemma, or maybe three, as in “Three Trees on a Hill.”

  3. PS If you find the Cleaning Lady etc. unseemly, try using Max Reger (maximum riefer)as the mascot(maxgod), googly-eyed man staring at you through oldstyle glasses, and in our Dwbbleregeratory cartoon Reger, right, sucking, serves toke to Brahms (left, with beard, sucking and staring at youviewer)— “Stare at Max Reger, it stares back.”

  4. Indeed, for a century, ballot initiatives have been the origin of most substantive reforms, from women’s suffrage and direct election of senators to minimum wage and sunshine laws, to renewable energy mandates and cannabis reforms.vote.org/initiatives
    This is a largely untold story, because the media kisses up to politicians, who mostly resent initiatives.

  5. Good News about Vermont. My family and I are trying to decide where to move to when we leave Nazi Virginia. Too bad that Vermont is way too cold in winter for me…

    Still, I salute any state, and in the case of Vermont the leaders of that state, that ends the draconian/idiotic marijuana prohibition policies!!!

    Most Republicans still don’t seem to get the message that marijuana is not what it was made out to be when prohibition was enacted; damn them! They will probably never get my support or that of just about anyone I know.

  6. i think we will see more of this. The will of the people is clear nationwide, so I believe more state legislatures will be looking to beat organizers to the punch, so that they can craft the language, which is of course good, and bad.

  7. Project Sam has a chapter in Vermont. That means theres no chance legalization could pass in the state legislature. Nobody hates Big Tobacco more than liberals in Vermont. Once Kevin Sabet tries to link Marijuana with Big Tobacco, all that will do is make Vermont hate marijuana too.

    [Editor’s note: Project SAM has had no effect on cannabis prohibition reform efforts anywhere…and with a majority of Vermonters wanting to end the failed prohibition; the governor, speaker of the house and senate majority leader advocating for law reforms, prohibitionists like Project SAM are going to continue to keep losing these public policy debates.]

  8. While Trump looks backward (immigration), a few Dems (Shap Smith, Gavin Newsom) look forward (ending MJ prohibition. Should play out well for them (not the Republicans.)

  9. @Miles, Conceivably Vermont could be one of TWO new residences for you, the other being in the Southern Hemisphere! Your family, especially children, deserve(s) to live in summer, learn outdoor crafts, travel, meet & befriend legal aliens etc.

    In any case you can stop paying $$$ for a fuelhundry house to live in in the winter and live exclusively in a DIY treeshack, tent, trailer, tepee complex in perpetual summer. A skeleton staff of a couple hundred thousand experts will take care of Vermont or Philadelphia in the winter, check housing, plumbing systems etc.

    Needed: HEMIGRATION, a maybe international, maybe UN program to provide worker individuals and families cheap safe travel to the Other Hemisphere each October and April or thereabouts.

    On board the ships there would be language lessons, training seminars, carpentry shops in which everyone learns how to transform scrapwood taken aboard on leaving the Previousseason Country into furniture and manufactured products to be sold at a Dock Arrival Sale in the Nextseason Country.

    Every child will be understood to have a God/govt.-given right to live in perpetual summer till age 11, be then fluent in 11 languages, a True Trained Transnational Treeplanter to help reforest planet, more trees to eat CO2, save our climate.

  10. “I certainly believe we can free the slaves, if we do it right” – A pompous government ass in Vermont

    Freedom does not come from a granted permission form of “legalization” by the government. It has a baked in assumption that they and not you are the entity that should decide what and how much you put into your own body….and then they’ll steal your money when they make you buy the privilege they’ve “given” you…

    Nobody owns other people. Free the fucking weed without a bunch of bullshit strings and permission attached! Resist the idea that you need “permission” to control your own body.

  11. Well, if the legislators are unable to legislate cannabis legalization, then a national vote is imperative. Overriding prohibition took an amendment. How many of these old white foggies will die rather than accept responsibility for their past indiscretions?

  12. @mexweed – What are you talking about – southern hemisphere???

    I am definitely considering both Washington and Colorado as options. Also, New Mexico would be a fantastic choice if they legalize in the next couple of years!

    Unfortunately, I just don’t see the Repubs letting that happen here. They just refuse, absolutely, to see the damage that is caused by prohibition. Either they are paid off or stupid. I admit I’m not sure which.

  13. @ Miles,

    Regarding NM, definitely wait to see who we elect as Gov., in the wake of Republican Susana Martinez’s reign. She’s vehemently anti-legalization, but her reign is over in two years. The Dems here are pushing for legalization, but the GOPers have succeeded in keeping prohibition, for Rec MJ at least; we were one of the first states, I believe, to legalize MMJ.

    Usually the voters here are fairly sane; they are susceptible to flashy lights and things, however, and the GOPers have learned to run Hispanics of late.

    The irony of your consideration is that in two years, when both my wife and I can retire, we’re considering moving elsewhere. It will have to be state that has legalized, of course, so, like you, Colorado and Washington St (and Oregon) are on my radar. Maybe Vermont now too.

  14. @Julian

    You are quite right about a state legislature legalizing our favorite herb being an important ‘pivotting point’. This would be a significant step indeed–precedent setting.

  15. @Galileo;
    What interests me is how the Vermont state legislature writes their marijuana laws, as our State and Federal Appellate court system relies so heavily on Congressionally passed legislation to write their final decisions and summary judgements. Perhaps the era of “not now, not in this court,” will soon be behind us?
    Lord knows, thanks to NORML, that the delay of ending marijuana prohibition has not been for a lack of timely evidence.

  16. Miles I feel your pain. I have never experienced anything as horrific as living in the CommunistWealth of VA. They may have a few cool mountains to look at but that is as far as it goes. Our area of southwest VA has been flooded by police looking for marijuana. What really sucks is that in all the marijuana friendly states real estate prices are soaring while in most of VA they are actually falling and the chance of getting out are falling by the minute. The corruption among law enforcement has gone through the roof. I was at police station getting background check done for a job and people were coming in from court that morning to be processed. Every single one was for possession of pot. And I didn’t hear one case that was searched legally or with a warrant. Some were chased down when they turned around at illegal check points. Others said they were searched but never were given a reason why. Even the children are complaining about the fact that everywhere they look they see police and it scares them.

  17. @ Miles,

    Talk about a coincidence, I picked up the local newspaper today, Sat. 9/5, and lo and behold there was an article about the Dem city councilors of Albuquerque trying to push decriminalization legislation again, as I noted they did last year. The newspaper didn’t mention their party, but they are Dems: Rey Garduno and Isaac Benton.

    The stance of Republican Mayor of Albuquerque, Richard Berry? The newspaper said, “Berry argued that decriminalization conflicted with state and federal law.”

    If the Dems can get the one turncoat who sided with the GOPers in the vote last year, I believe they can override Berry’s next veto. Stay tuned.

  18. @Miles, Because you said Vermont was way too cold in winter, I suggest half a year in each hemisphere, using only cheap summer housing, skipping the heating bills will more than compensate for April/October travel expenses.

    Checking the Uruguay map I find Florida– a city of 33,639 just north of Montevideo, where you can surely get a good supply of Bwdflower.

  19. @Evening Bud – Republican Susana Martinez, like most Republicans, has been a disaster for those of us that believe in freedom and ending prohibition.

    I grew up in Albuquerque, graduated from Del Norte High School back in 1974, and would love to move back there – If I could legally grow myself a plant or two from time to time.

    My timeframe to move (or should I say escape – Virginia) is between 2 and 3 years from now. New Mexico would be my number one choice if only they would get onboard with legalization/regulation instead of continuing to support the cartels agenda…

    I really hope that New Mexican’s get rid of Martinez next election… Like Chris Christie, it is hard to imagine why they have any supporters at all let alone winning an election…

  20. @ Miles,

    It’s a small world–I graduated from Manzano H.S. in ’73. Like you, my timeframe is about 3 years–we’re moving to a legalized state, then–I can’t wait for legalization here, and I’m gonna be too old to develop MJ contacts in any other state at my age.

    But, let’s see what happens after the Wicked Witch is no longer Gov. here.

  21. @Evening Bud – “The stance of Republican Mayor of Albuquerque, Richard Berry? The newspaper said, “Berry argued that decriminalization conflicted with state and federal law.”

    If that is Berry’s only reason for continuing prohibition, he should work towards changing the Federal law instead of cowering behind it! I say screw any law that is based on lies, propaganda, and racism! It is sad that so many Republicans just want to maintain the status quo even though it sucks… Damn Them!

    But alas, I know that there are a few good Republicans; like the police, a few are good but a great many are bad, and some are really bad!

  22. Like I said before, maybe these legislators are standing their ground for some other issue than pot plants. Maybe the phrase “smoking pot” means “having a bad attitude towards America” to someone who doesn’t understand that weed is a plant that grows in the earth from a little seed. We don’t each have a computer inside our face. The information overload would be blinding. Therefore ideas and beliefs flow through us not from a fountain inside us. An individual and what they say and do is entirely a result of their environment. We cannot expect a politician or civil servant to deduce that pot is a medicine plant if that thought construct is too abstract given their upbringing.

  23. Umm, marijuana and cannabis have been known as medicinal plants for thousands of years. Morons that make money by stealing people’s rights and taxes instead doing work (liberals) keep marijuana illegal so they can give themselves more power than what is legal in this country. Tax and spend Liberals in both the Republican and Democratic parties created Prohibition from Nothing. They are not standing up for what they think it right, or they would be standing up for the American Values of not placing innocent people in jail for non-sense crimes. That you’re “breaking the law” by owning a particular plant doesn’t even make sense in a “Free Country”. What kind of free country lets people be arrested for using their freedom??? Neither does owning a slave. How can you own someone else in a “free country”???? How can people be so dumb as to ever support this hyper-liberal lying and governmental thievery?

  24. I love New Mexico, however, I do not even like S. Martinez and I voted against her both times. Makes me feel like my vote doesn’t count. How can any Republican for any seat get elected? I’m thinking election fraud.

  25. Would love to be excited about this but how excited can we really be. Look at colorado…legal as can be but employers, d.o.t. will still drug test the hell out of you. I guess if your retired or rich and don’t have to be employed it’s a big win but for the common man or woman it does not mean shit.government is bound and determined to keep street gangs in business with weed being their most popular product. Gov’t has their heads firmly planted up their ass at “we the people” expense. Let them do what they want to do as for 40 yrs i can order and have delivered a bag of weed quicker than a pizza.further proof of the ineffectivness of big brotherand it’s stupidity.

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