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).
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.
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.
If you are a Vermont resident, please send them an email urging them to support S. 241.
The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana released a new television ad this week, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project, featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official. The ad began airing statewide on Tuesday and will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.
In the ad, titled "Time to End Prohibition (Again)," former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney points out that "marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems" as Alcohol Prohibition. The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and tell them, "It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont."
In a news release, MPP's Montpelier-based New England political director, Matt Simon, said:
“Mr. Cheney decided to appear in this ad for the same reason he served as the state’s top law enforcement official. He cares strongly about the safety and wellbeing of Vermont citizens.
“There are a lot of current and former law enforcement officials out there who support ending prohibition and regulating marijuana. It’s important that citizens and lawmakers hear from them.”
On Tuesday, the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana held a press conference to announce the launch of an ad campaign featuring former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney highlighting the benefits of regulating marijuana.
Cheney served as Vermont attorney general from 1973 to 1975. Previously, he served as an assistant attorney general and was elected Washington County states attorney. He has held a variety of other civic positions and is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Last week, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Vermont “[has] the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right” in 2016, and he promised state lawmakers he will work with them to “craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”