What would marijuana legalization look like in Vermont? We know the answer is "awesome" but state leaders want to examine the fiscal, social and health impacts that legalizing even limited amounts of cannabis for adults would bring. So the state is pairing up with the Rand Corporation to study those questions and have an answer by next fall so lawmakers can begin discussing the issue.
"In conjunction with the team from Rand, and our internal system we're going to really try to put together a really high quality report," said Jeb Spaulding, administration secretary for the governor's office. "That addresses all of the issues that are related to the legalization of marijuana use."
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has not sided one way or another with marijuana legalization, though many say he will go the way of the report: if it is favorable, he'll likely support legalization. If the report is damning, don't look for Shumlin to get behind it.
But while we expect most government studies to err on the side of not legalizing cannabis, officials with the state say they are pairing with Rand to help create an objective report.
"They will be doing everything from estimating what the usage would be in Vermont, what the effects on public health would be if you were to go down this road," Spaulding told Vermont Public Radio last week. "(And) what's the right way to do the taxation, how do you deal with the black market, what happens on the highways, There are a myriad number of issues. Plus we have people in state, our commissioners of liquor control for example have their counterparts are involved in Colorado and Washington. The commissioner of public safety here in Vermont has counterparts in those states and has some experience with the medical marijuana dispensaries right now."
The study is a requirement of a bill passed this last session that expanded medical cannabis access.