A state Senate panel voted 3-2 Thursday to support a bill that would allow the establishment of five medical marijuana dispensaries to serve the needs of 169 Vermonters who have registered with the state as cannabis patients, reports Nancy Remsen of the Burlington Free Press.
Supporters on the Senate Government Operations Committee argued that patients with permission to use marijuana shouldn’t be forced to deal with criminals as they try to obtain cannabis to help cope with debilitating medical conditions.
Opponents claimed Vermont couldn’t afford the new oversight and enforcement expenses that would come with the establishment of dispensaries, which would be called “compassion centers.”
The bill must be reviewed by at least one more Senate committee before it comes before the full Senate for a vote, Remsen reports
Despite the split committee vote, the bill might receive a push from Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin (D-Windham).
“I’d like to see it pass,” Shumlin said. “We get calls in my office from elderly Vermonters, sick people, who have followed the law and ask us what a drug dealer looks like so they can get the medicine they need.”