Vermont: House Members Turn Back Marijuana Reform Efforts

personal_cultivationMembers of the Vermont House spent over six hours today debating various amendments to reform marijuana policy, but ultimately decided against enacting any significant changes in law.

House lawmakers voted 121 to 28 to reject Senate-approved language that sought to regulate the adult use, commercial production, and retail sale of marijuana. Although Gov. Peter Shumlin and Attorney General William Sorrell publicly supported the effort, House members expressed little interest in seriously considering the measure.

House members also rejected an alternative measure that sought to expand the state’s existing decriminalization law to also include the personal cultivation of marijuana. Representatives voted 77 to 70 to reject the ammendment.

Representatives also debated whether or not to put forward the question, “Should Vermont legalize marijuana for recreational purposes?” before voters as a non-binding initiative during the upcoming August primary election. Lawmakers decided against the proposal by a vote of 97 to 51.

House lawmakers narrowly voted 77 to 68 in favor of provisions establishing an advisory commission to make recommendations to the legislature with regard to future marijuana policy. Specifically, the commission would be tasked with “propos[ing] a comprehensive regulatory and revenue structure that establishes controlled access to marijuana in a manner that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.” Those recommendations would be due by December 15, 2016.

House and Senate lawmakers previously approved a study commission in 2014. That commission’s report summarized various alternative regulatory schemes but made no recommendations with regard to if and how lawmakers should ultimately amend state law.

The amended measure now awaits a concurrence vote by the Senate. [Update: The Senate failed to concur; therefore there will be no commission.]

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Gov. Shumlin said, “It is incredibly disappointing … that a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state.”

23 thoughts

  1. I haven’t read the transcripts, but clearly this is the old tactic called “jaw it to death.” It’s a way to fool people into thinking you give a shit about them and their concerns, when you don’t. It’s a way to say “fuck you” to someone, without them ever knowing it; and then they turn around and thank you for saying it!

    Hillary is using this tactic right now. Question: What do you do when all reason and fact is against you, but you still have no intention of changing your position whatsoever? Jaw it to death!

    I used to fall for that shit; not anymore. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t assume they are actually considering doing anything other than continuing to jaw it to death.

    Here’s the giveaway in this case: MORE STUDIES! Anyone who says that about marijuana is bullshitting you!!!!

  2. We need to keep tabs on politicians who vote against the progress towards legalizing Marijuana. These will be the same guys in the future stating they supported the movement. We have to make sure that we keep them honest. It’s all political at this point.

  3. After all the current evidence on cannabis benefits these bozos spend 6 hours of their expensive time and chase their tail back 1937.
    WAKE UP so called leaders.
    What is their major malfunction?
    Please Vermonters vote these criminals out !!

  4. “It is incredibly disappointing … that a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state.”


  5. I urge Vermonters to determined who voted against this proposal and VOTE THEM OUT! Send them a message that they’re disregard for the will of the people won’t be tolerated.

  6. Apparently, most of these legislators cannot come to grips with the fact that marijuana is dramatically less harmful to users and society than the alcohol and/or tobacco many of them use daily.

  7. Well Happy Fuckin Birthday. What an evil drag.
    Add this to the scorecard and vote the bastards out!

    One silver-green lining from Tom Angell, the journalist from the linked article to;

    “Looking ahead, if the study commission that would be created by the House bill ends up recommending legalization, that could force lawmakers to take a serious look at broader legislation next year.”

    1. Perhaps. But, I dunno… gotta say, it looks like pure stall tactic to me! Personally, I don’t buy the “we need more time to study it” excuse. But I’d be delighted to be wrong about that!

      Studying it, obsessing over it, searching for a problem that doesn’t exist: that’s all the prohibitionists have been doing for decades! I’m talking about all that quack science that came out of NIDA, whose position is that there is no such thing as recreational cannabis use – it’s all drug abuse. (I would say it’s all medical, but that’s another blog comment.) Point is, cannabis is the only drug that has been that extensivly vetted for safety! In a way, they did us a favor, in that respect. They tried real hard to find a harm, and they failed. They can’t do it!

      The clock has run out on waiting for more studies. That’s my beef with Hillary.

      1. Which segues into the next blog that covers the CBS poll showing a majority of women publicly and honestly supporting marijuana legalization, (even though CBS followed up with an article that published a previously refuted study that falsely claimed marijuana consumers have decreased IQ… Turns out cannabis stimulates neurogenesis!)
        But a majority of American women openly support legalization! That’s Hillary’s base. She may be tied up with Big Pharma and their plans for quasi prohibition but Hillary won’t be able to ignore the full recreational legalization issue even if Bernie Sanders never brought up that Wall Street got a get out of jail free card while nonviolent possessions overflow our prisons.
        But the science is increasingly undefiable. And the “entourage effect” or synergistic effect of cannabinoids is patently unpatentable. We are defeating the worst drug dealers on the planet; tax evading, opiate pushing GlaxoSmithKline, GW Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Biotech and Monsantos. Because we really don’t need that much Round Up herbicide. We really don’t need that much petroleum based fertilizer. And we damn sure don’t need some single-molecule, patent for profit system chock full of side effects. Americans are discovering our birthright; a symbiotic link to the world’s most cultivated plant, full of utility and unique whole-plant healing and nourishment for the human endocannabinoid system. Ultimately, the inevitable legalization of cannabis is the return to sustainable human coexistence with our living planet. Prohibitionists cant stop this movement; they can only desperately delay it.

      2. So much fir silver-green linings;

        The Senate scuttled the piece of shit commission too. Gonna have to vote and try again next year.

        The House kept saying they weren’t getting a “swell of support,” which seems contradictory to the polls I was reading from Vermont. Calls do help in these circumstances. And gutting homegrown while keeping commercial operations was bound to fail in Vermont.
        But what concerns me more are the comments from House Speaker Smith, who is supposed to be a marijuana advocate;

        “At the same time, the opioid crisis emerged as a reason for opponents to kill the measure. “The shadow of the heroin epidemic is something that people think about when they think about the legalization, and they ask themselves, ‘Are we sending the right message about legalization?’” House Speaker Smith told the New York Times. “I think in the public’s mind, it’s making passage of this bill more difficult.”

        Vermont needs Dr. Sue Sisley to get legalization to work next year. Someone educated needs to explain to Speaker Smith that MARIJUANA IS TREATMENT FOR OPIATE ADDICTION! The very fact he used opiate addiction as a scare tactic to kill the bill reveals to me the Speaker is no friend of legalization at all, and must have been purchased by the vendors of opiates and enemies of whole plant medicine. Why else was homegrown stripped from the bill? The whole mess stinks of Big Pharma.
        I would check Burlington Drug Co., Foodscience Corp. and Bio-tek Instruments and see if the good speaker isn’t accepting any campaign donations.

  8. Vote the mossbacks out. Serve notice to all prohibitionists they will be targeted to loose their jobs if they don’t pass legislation to suit the people.

  9. No More Studies!

    The only thing you need to know is how much money it’s going to bring into the public coffers. Canada is legalizing in 2017. Vermont needs to legalize EXACTLY because of that. Why take the risk of smuggling across the international border by bringing in Canadian product? What the hell? The U.S. needs the jobs, AND why not Vermont jobs? U.S. citizens can just get it on the East Coast in Vermont, AND the $money$ $tay$ in the U.$.! You have to $top a$king for trouble by out$sourcing the $upply for your demand to another country.

    Jus$t end prohibition and $top ba$ically $endng $hitload$ of U.$. dollar$ out of the country.

    1. Check out this response to Sen Kristen Hillabrand from the State Department

      “With “cannabis” substituted for “opium,” the Article 23 requirements are as follows:
      ? The establishment of one or more government agencies to carry out the functions required in article 23 [Note: it can be argued that the agency or agencies with responsibility for administering the controls are not part of the “system of controls” and thus this provision does not apply to cannabis.]”

      There it is. The State Department is telling us that legally licensing cannabis in the US or any country is not in violation of the Single Convention. That means the “NIDA monopoly” was just a distraction from the DEA failing to do their job and issue cannabis licencing for research. That explains the pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana to schedule II; The “We don’t have enough research” on cannabis argument, according to the State Department and by international standards, is a false interpretation of the rules of the Single Convention.

  10. Once again, the politicians are far behind the people on an issue.

    NORML editors, I attempted to find out specifically how each Rep voted, but was unable to find that info. Could you possibly supply us with the names and vote of each Rep? Thanks.

  11. Come on Vermont. Organize just a little bit, just enough to know and publish who they were and ask all the folks in Vermont to help you vote them out of office. If you don’t think that resonates just look at the Presidential primaries.
    When you start kickin’ the establishment and Ol draconian politicians to the curb they all of a sudden begin to be interested in your position and want to help you..

  12. Representatives also debated whether or not to put forward the question, “Should Vermont legalize marijuana for recreational purposes?

    “Representatives”- for whom,is the question?.I hope the Representatives in the context of how NORML phrased it, means ‘representation of the people” but it doesn’t appear that way,not the common ones that vote.Just– Law Enforcement, Prison Industries,Big Pharma and all the other Corporations that fund them,as well as their own stock and shares.

    Never mind the individual citizens that have the gall to vote–their just little ants getting in the way of “special interest”.which means “theirs”not yours.

  13.       Prohibition is a political problem and therefore it requires a political solution. Experience has shown that cannabis prohibition is unlike other political topics..  
        Courts have been deaf, and the various executive agencies blind, to almost every legal argument and each regulatory attempt to defang prohibition. [When Tim Leary won his case against the 1937 Tax Act, it was superseded by the Contr. Subst. Act.  And then when NORML won a favorable ruling from DEA’s chief judge on re-scheduling, DEA simply ignored it.]
         Legislatures are where you observe how profoundly abnormal, politically speaking, NORML’s cause is. 
    Fear governs–impressed on lawmakers by the clout of police/prosecutor/prison lobbies, by pharma & “treatment” & liquor other affected interests, and also fear instilled by relentless media-spewed reefer madness propaganda.
         Where medical and general legalization has been successful, it has been won almost entirely through direct electoral action.
         Courts, executive, and legislative arenas are all shuttered against us. The only option left is a political solution in the electoral arena.
          Focus on voter registration and voter turn-out; and either find sympathetic candidates and help elect them; or aim to defeat or at least to combat our opponents.  
          Demographic analysis correlates cannabis usage with non-voting!   
    If there are no relevant electoral contests where you live, then dedicate this year to raising money and volunteering for other states where legalization IS on the ballot. 
    Let’s assert that ending prohibition is a social justice and public safety imperative. Let’s shed the image of hedonism and also the internalized guilt and shame too many smokers accept. Let’s respond to defeat in Vermont and other legislatures by the necessary corrective—no more money wasted on lobbying but instead, much more effort invested in ballot-box payback.

  14. They act like this is some sort of radioactive substance that, if it comes in contact with the air-or if you feed it after midnight-it will bring on Armageddon, or at least be cause for a major evacuation. What it is, is a deeply ingrained Puritan-White Man’s Burden-Manifest Destiny mindset that says we should all live and work in a certain narrowly defined but persistently unnatural way, and that anything directly from nature is “bad” or simply there for our exploitation. This is the same mindset that rejects government regulations in favor of “drill baby drill,” and promotes the notion that this country was founded by Christians (historically not entirely accurate) and therefore laws should be guided by that particular set of beliefs. It is this same mindset that looks down on the idea of “getting high” (witness the trend toward CBD only “marijuana”-kind of like a lion with no teeth) while hypocritically overlooking the ravages of alcohol. It makes NO SENSE but then again how many other instances have we seen where outdated ignorant ideology trumps science and becomes law?

  15. Maybe time to vote Republicans out of office!! As the wistel soldier said about the House, they love thier 3:00 pm BOZZE!! some House!! Bunch of Drunks! Love to c them caught drunk driving!!????

  16. Urgh, that’s a bummer. The money VT could have made off of this… Legal weed would have been merely a nice perk. We could have had growers, dispensaries, and related businesses making money hand over fist RIGHT HERE IN OUR STATE. What a loss.

    1. @Steph,
      Focus on this next Vermont legislative session on January 17th. And meet Speaker Smith in person; Ask him whether he believes that opiate addiction can be treated by marijuana consumption. See what he says? Let us know!

  17. To provide enough information for a reasoning person to decide whether or not the debate was meaningful, why not provide a link to a transcript of the debate?

    Perhaps there were some valid reasons to put off the measure for now. Six hours of debate couldn’t be all worthless. Or was it?

    Really I don’t know as I don’t know what they debated, or who said what. If I knew that, I’d be able to understand both sides and make a clear decision on which side I stand.

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