Pro-Decriminalization Candidate Ahead in Vermont Gubernatorial Primary

Aug 25, 2010

Brian Dubie, decriminalization, Peter Shumlin, Vermont

Unofficial vote totals show that marijuana decriminalization supporter Peter Shumlin won the Vermont Democratic primary for governor yesterday by an agonizingly tight margin of fewer than 200 votes. Although votes are in from all 260 precincts, towns and cities have a couple of days to certify official results. Currently president pro tempore of the Vermont state Senate, Shumlin has been a staunch supporter of efforts to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Vermont—something MPP has spent years lobbying for.

“Small marijuana offenses, when you’re already on probation, can send you to prison,” Shumlin told the Rutland Herland in June. “That doesn’t seem to me to be the best use of scarce taxpayer dollars.”

While a recount is likely because the final tally was so close, Shumlin’s victory in a five-person primary is yet another example of how candidates can benefit — not suffer — from supporting efforts to reform marijuana laws. Assuming Shumlin is the Democratic candidate, Vermont’s general election will also be of greatest interest to marijuana policy reformers. The Republican candidate for governor, Brian Dubie, is an opponent of decriminalization, and the race is expected to be close.