Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin on Thursday signed S. 17, a bill authorizing up to four dispensaries where registered patients can buy medicinal cannabis, augmenting the state’s already-existing medical marijuana law.
Vermont joins Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Arizona and Delaware on the list of states that explicitly allow cannabis dispensaries. Washington, D.C., is also in the process of implementing a program that will allow five marijuana dispensaries in the nation’s capital.
“This is a great day for a lot of patients throughout the state that, until now, have been unsure how to go about obtaining medicine their doctor has recommended,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project
|Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project: “Governor Shumlin is to be commended for his leadership and compassion”
”Governor Shumlin is to be commended for his leadership and compassion, and congratulations to Sen. Jeanette White and the other legislative leaders who shepherded this bill through the Legislature,” Riffle said.
Vermont law allows patients or their caregivers to grow their own marijuana, but several patients told legislators that they were unable to do so due to the high cost of equipment, or because their medical condition made the task too physically demanding.
The patients were joined by the state’s top law enforcement official, Department of Public Safety Director Keith Flynn, who also testified in support of the measure.
Thursday’s signing was welcome news to Ian Rhein. Twenty years ago, he was shot while intervening in a domestic altercation and the bullet has remained lodged in his back since, causing excruciating pain.
“I’ve always been grateful that my registry card means I’m not a criminal, but until today that card has done nothing to give me relief from constant, everyday pain which is what this program is supposed to be about,” Rhein said. “Finally, with this law, I’ll be able to use the card to obtain the medicine I need.”