Vermont Finishes Study on Legalizing Pot, Results Due in January



We told you earlier this year about Vermont teaming with the RAND Corporation to study what the legalization of limited amounts of cannabis for adult use would look like.
The study is now complete – it’s apparently as thick as a phone book — but won’t be released until January. But the public is getting hints as to what it contains.

Beau Kilmer, a senior researcher with RAND told Vermont lawmakers earlier this week that legalizing and regulating cannabis would remove a lot of “risk” currently surrounding cannabis. He also proposed a “state monopoly system” to lawmakers as an alternative to private companies doing the selling – not unlike how some states sell alcohol in state-run liquor stores.
Kilmer says that model would allow the government complete control over any marketing of the cannabis, notably the message being sent to children. Advertising for medical cannabis – which is legal in Vermont – is currently illegal.
The full RAND report is due in January.
At a forum in Bennington earlier this week, many residents agreed that pot use should be an individual choice and not one for the state to make. Most spoke in favor of legalization.
“Vermont is pretty progressive and open minded,” Scott Stahler, a grow store owner, said. “I think Vermont in general would be open to it. I think a lot of the people are for it.”
But law enforcement is (predictably) against the move.
“We don’t want people under the age of 21 consuming alcohol. It’s happening. We don’t want people under 18 using tobacco. It’s happening,” Bennington Police Chief Paul Coucette told local ABC News 10. “Your kids know if you have Mary in your desk drawers,” he said. They know if you have Mary in your underwear drawer at home.”
Yes, he really said Mary Jane without a hint of irony.
Some legislators say they’ve heard bits and pieces of the report. State Sen. Dick Sears told reporters at WCAX that he’s heard annual tax estimates around $11 million.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin hasn’t taken a position on legalizing recreational cannabis, but is expected to do so according to his secretary, Jeb Spaulding.
“Not just taxation and regulation but all the public safety issues, the public health issues,” Spaulding said. “The governor does not yet have a position about whether the state should move forward.”