Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin yesterday says he is now open to discussing the regulation and legalization of limited amounts of marijuana for adult use following the announcement by the Justice Department that marijuana businesses will be allowed to operate in Colorado and Washington. But, he says Vermont should let those two states test the waters before Vermont takes the plunge.
“I think we should learn from Washington and from Colorado,” Shumlin told reporters yesterday. “But I don’t think we should let them get too far ahead of us.”
According to the Justice Department memo, states that have a “strong and effective state regulatory system” in place for recreational marijuana sales will be left alone, for the most part. That is assurance enough for Shumlin, who says it might be time for Vermont to follow in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps.
|Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.|
“I applaud the Department of Justice for being more clear about how they’re going to enforce legislative issues of small amounts of marijuana,” Shumlin said Tuesday to reporters, according to the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus. “And I am open to a further discussion in Vermont about what makes the most sense for this state.”
Shumlin hasn’t been very vocal about the issue in the past, but it is worth noting that he is scheduled to take part in a Marijuana Policy Project fundraiser later this month as part of a discussion on nationwide legalization within the next four years.
He has said that state resources need to be directed towards drugs that are having a negative impact in Vermont.
“We are losing the battle in Vermont on opiates, prescription drugs, heroin and other drugs that are ravaging our communities, driving crime and destroying families,” Shumlin told reporters. “And I think it’s smart to continue to look at how we’re spending our law enforcement dollars, and what makes the most sense when it comes to small amounts of marijuana.”
Vermont currently allows for medical cannabis and dispensaries have been selling to registered patients for the last few months. The state also decriminalized an ounce or less of cannabis, making possession a $300 fine.