Vermont Governor Signs Dispensary Bill Despite U.S. Attorney Letter

Jun 02, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,

Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin – who MPP helped elect – just signed a bill to make Vermont state law the eighth to explicitly authorize and regulate dispensaries where registered patients can purchase medical marijuana. Today’s signing marks the culmination of a two-year lobbying effort led by MPP and the third bill signing we’ve been a part of just this month. Many thanks to Governor Shumlin and the bill’s sponsors, Senators Jeanette White, Hinda Miller, and Dick Sears for their leadership, and the dedicated patient advocates throughout the state who made the case for adding dispensaries to Vermont’s medical marijuana law.

MPP’s lobbyists and several of the state’s most committed patient advocates watch as Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin signs S. 17

Today’s signing bucks a trend of sorts. Governors in Rhode Island, Arizona, and Washington have all put the brakes on bills or laws to allow dispensaries, after receiving threatening letters from U.S. Attorneys in their states. Shumlin and legislative leaders received a similar letter on May 4, the day before the House of Representative was slated to vote on the dispensary bill. We were able to address concerns in the House and the administration, and the next day the House passed the measure 99-44 – with a copy of the letter on the desk of each representative.

One reason we were able to convince elected officials to move forward is that, despite the letters, there has still never been a raid on any dispensaries in states that explicity recognize and regulate dispensaries and that are in compliance with those laws. On the other hand, it’s unfortunate, but not uncommon, to see raids of dispensaries in places with more ambiguous laws that don’t specifically address dispensaries. In other words, in practice, it seems U.S. Attorneys are abiding by a narrow interpretation of the policy announced in the 2009 “Ogden memo,” in which these attorneys were instructed not to take action against anyone in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state law.

Ironically, that means the best way to avoid any federal enforcement action is to do exactly the opposite of what Washington, Arizona, and Rhode Island’s governors are doing, and instead embrace state laws that explicitly authorize and regulate dispensaries, like Gov. Shumlin and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. Let’s hope today’s signing marks the end of this troubling trend.

20 responses to “Vermont Governor Signs Dispensary Bill Despite U.S. Attorney Letter”

  1. Wow, finally a state’s politicians standing up for the states rights… COOL!

    Jan Brewer simply will lose money if she doesn’t try and shut this thing down in AZ. Well she’ll lose money either way (either less spiff money from the private prisons if the law is upheld, or no tax dollars on the dispensary’s to balance the budget).

    Lets take Medical Marijuana to the supreme court already, make the DEA re-evaulate the substance to a class 2 or 3. End this war on “drugs” and quit peddling pharmaceuticals to fatten your pockets and give me a headache, sore eyes, a dry mouth, diarrhea, hives, just to cure my heartburn that you call acid reflux 😉 Ooops, I’ve rambled

  2. It is terrible that I thrive so much off of states telling there own attorney generals and the feds to go screw yourselves. 🙂

  3. 55 pharma companies are allowed to grow cannabis for the generic form of marinol How in the hell can the DEA say there is no med uses for cannabis. That is the same as saying the ocean is dry. We see but are told to not see. Yes we do see the truth and it makes me sick. We are under a dictator, plain and simple. I am kicked off of my e-mail because I said how I felt about a governer in Mt. Not because I said anything violent or threaten him in any way. He took the side of the DEA and that is his job, to be a puppet. I now know a little more about how it feels to be silenced by our wonderfull govt. I am ashamed to be an American right now but I will get over it. I am not so sure about the DEA when they loose all of that free money and personel property illegally siezed in raids. Not to mention the billions they get for cannabis eradication. I cannot wait!

  4. I’m very pleased to see Gov. Shumlin refuse to bow to pressure from the DOJ. The veil is being lifted despite the relentless attempts by those who stand to profit the most from the classification of cannabis as an Schedule 1 narcotic.

  5. It just goes to show you that mainstream politicians who have woken up and smelled the coffee realize that you can’t afford to increase the size of government in order to hire more law enforcement to enforce the cannabis laws.

    Where’s the money to pay for it all going to come from? A McJob? 2 McJobs?

    You can’t afford to hunt down and lock up everybody. If the Feds had the money they’d be expanding the federal criminal justice expenditures simply to put enough people in prison for cannabis prohibition to be truly effective.

    They’re not going to execute people for it. Cannabis use in all walks of life, all financial levels.

    They’re not ever going to be able to afford to put the over 1 to 1.5 million Americans in jail.

    I mean really, how much does it cost per year to house a prisoner? Are they out of their fucking minds? They need to wake up and legalize cannabis.

    Here’s the meme I want you to use on Saturday Night Live. I want you to get pro-cannabis air time on the Really part of their fake news and other comedy shows. Seth did it together with Amy. Have Seth on different shows with different people from the reform groups who are doing cameo appearances. Or, have actors say pretty much what that someone from the pro-cannabis group would say, and without making an ass out of the person. A jest is fine, however the federal government and people who serve as human icons (in the semiotic sense) are the ones who are to be the butt of criticism and to be made to look like asses. You could start off with actors portraying various reformers, painting them in a good light and the prohibition forces in a bad light. Then, the cameo performance between the real person and the actor in the character of that very same reform group person could show up every now and then on a later show. You know how it goes: the actor portraying the reformer, and in the middle of a Really exchange with Seth (or some other regular SNL cast member) the cameo comes in to comment or address a question that the actor doesn’t know how to answer or answer right.

    You get the picture.

    This is the next meme. Try to make it go viral and be the talk of the day. Keep up the drumbeat.

    The Beat Goes On
    Sonny & Cher

  6. Yet another governor with his ball attached. Bravo! We need more patriot politicians willing to stand up for our rights under the constitution. I urge everyone to use your vote in 2012 to elect those leaders who support marijuana bills around the country, because this is a sighn that they actually give a crap about the constitution. Ron Paul is the champion of these patriotic leaders, he’s the captain of team constitution. Get this man into the white house so we can take our country back.

  7. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are purposely being ignored by the top main stream media which may be a good thing because they are proven very consistent on their issues and they do not flip-flop just to get votes. They are very serious contenders and I do hope to god they win. They make a great team. They are very tough debaters and the reefer madness opposition are losing so much ground that they will not be a factor in this race.

  8. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are purposely being ignored by the top main stream media which may be a good thing because they are proven very consistent on their issues and they do not flip-flop just to get votes. They are very serious contenders and I do hope to god they win. They make a great team. They are very tough debaters and the reefer madness opposition are losing so much ground that they will not be a factor in this race.
    The Barrack Obama speech at the 2004 DNC made him become president, but his ill fated hasted plans made him a failure as if he really didn’t think he could win. But he did.
    The choosing of his cabinet prompted his failure. It was a good choice to put Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State so that she can actually smell the stench of Global affairs, but it was a mistake to have Senator Biden as vice president. He took all the ambitious candidates that opposes him during the debates and made them part of his presidential cabinet. I voted for Barrack Obama and I regretted it.

  9. This is great news in Vermont. As for Arizona, Ms. Brewer has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from the private prison industry (see links below). Her actions are consistent with her close ties to the private, for-profit prison industry (the people who want to lock up your kids so that they can keep on making a buck): Here’s some info from Wikipedia, and a link to the underlying story:

    “The Brewer administration has also been investigated by KPHO for hiring Chuck Coughlin and Paul Senseman, both lobbyists for Corrections Corporation of America, as a policy advisor and communications director.[39] Although Coughlin continues work as both a lobbyist and policy advisor, Senseman no longer does work for CCA. CCA operates six private, for-profit prisons in Arizona.[40] ”.
    Here’s the KPHO story, including a description of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money from Corrections Corporation.
    So Ms. Brewer is working to keep marijuana illegal and is at the same time hiring staff from a very large, for-profit prison corporation and taking campaign money from them. The AZ campaign finance site is at but it’s not working for me; can anybody go in and see how much Ms. Brewer has taken from the prison industry? Is that really the government that we want… run by the prison companies? Is there someone in AZ that could get this info into the public arena?

  10. I must admit, a politician supporting the will of the people? What gives here? This story reflects a trend that will, hopefully, catch-on. It’s called HONESTY. The conviction of purpose to speak one’s mind in the face of opposition.
    A trait presently found only in miniscule amounts of seemingly all elected officials.
    I am hopeful that more states follow Vermont’s lead and give the DEA the finger-and proceed with MMJ laws, or rescheduling Cannabis. The point is to press on. Forcing this issue to, and at, the Federal level is the next move in the positive, fact based campaign to once-and-for-all
    “Re-Legalize” Cannabis.
    Americans are too quick to forget that our country’s history is critical to know as it’s proven that “if we do not learn from our past mistakes,-we are destined to repeat them”; assuring our future destruction. Looking at the “disappearance” of the Fourth Ammendment I cannot help to think back to the time the genesis of its intent and implimentation. Today our “Government” relies on terrorist actions to enforce their ill-concieved and unconstitutional laws regarding this “Most therapeutically effective substance known to man” according to one of our more thoughtful Stare-Supreme Court Justices.
    More power to those states who understand , cherish and USE their sovereignty.
    Poo-Poo on the Feds, they’ll catchh up. PEACE
    Exceptional work Vermont!~ Where it seems important to “Live Free or Die”

  11. When the heck is Mn going to get some help? Why can’t we vote on 2012 and let the people decide enough is enough with these gut less politics in Mn

  12. Somebody, don’t recall who, said, “People will only allow themselves to be policed so much”. In other words, the feds can tell states what they want, but if the states refuse, if the people refuse to obey the feds,… then the games over for the feds.
    Now to stop the debt limit increase …. no more ponzi scheme. No,NO.0


  13. I’m not a big fan of Vermont. But, this is awesome! I’m really impressed with the Governor. We need stronger Governors that are willing to stand up for the 10th Amendment and their states.
    Oh and to: Noel & Timothy, Right on!

  14. Just noticed that send by Clarence … Clarence, synthetic THC is made my reacting oliviatal and paramethandianol in a reaction that produces delta-9 THC. The only place that is doing this in bulk is Norac laboratories in Azusa California. started by a man named Cester McClusky and they do a half bilion a year -mainly in resin catalysys and contract pharmaceuticals. It then goes to Banner Labs on LA to be packaged into capsules. and sent to Roxanne for distribution .. but the actual company, Unimed, was bought by the Belgian Solvay Pharmaceutical years ago.

    Isn’t it charming the level of information we have here. Look, until the Feds legalize it, nothing’s worth a cup of spit because the moment that happens – two words – Goldman Sachs – and all of a sudden the REAL players will be on the scene and I can assure you that will be it. If the Feds let go, it simply slips to Schedule 2, and that’s still DEA land .. and the regulations and restrictions they will require will put any amateur right out of business. But … the good side is that you’ll be abke to get good dope at a reasonab le price (you think they won’t make it good .. who ever suggested that?) at your local pharmacy for anything woirse than a hangnail.

    Sorry Clarence ..

  15. I think its fantastic that the Senator of Vermont has balls unlike most others in his field. I hope to God it happens soon to VT’s neighboring state Massachusetts. Otherwise I may have to move. Lucky me it would only be a 20 min commute!
    Seriously though, the rest of the country needs to jump on the bandwagon and do the damn thing. Cmon Obama at least give us this!

    btw “don’t ya know” I thought u might like to learn live free or die is actually New Hampshire’s slogan, not VT 🙂

  16. Laurence.. That is pretty much a fact. The feds are the drug cartel of America. Cannabis will only become legal when the feds figure out how they become the grower, harvester and seller of said weed, or the seller of overpriced permits. Sad aint it!

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