The Green Mountain State may be getting a whole lot greener in 2016. That’s because Vermont plans to legalize marijuana in 2016 according to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.
In his annual State of the State address, which he delivered on January 7, Peter Shumlin highlighted legalization as one of his primary objectives for the new year.
“The outdated War on Drugs has also failed, and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws,” he told Vermonters.
Shumlin expressed concern that although the state decriminalized pot back in 2013, the 80,000 Vermonters who smoked marijuana last year were still forced to purchase their weed from black market dealers.
“The black market of drug dealers selling marijuana for recreational use is alive and well,” he said.
“These illegal dealers couldn’t care less how young their customers are or what’s in the product they sell, or what illegal drugs you buy from their stash, much less whether they pay taxes on their earnings.”
In his attempt to “craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably” Peter Shumlin announced that any move to legalize pot must include the following features:
- It must have rules in place to prevent underage children from buying weed.
- The tax on pot must be adequate enough to wipe out the black market.
- Some of the revenue generated by pot taxes must be used to strengthen drug addiction programs.
- Taxes from pot should also help bolster existing DUI laws.
- The state will wait to legalize edibles until it can figure out an effective system for regulating them.
Vermont plans to legalize marijuana are important because they would be the result of direct legislation rather than some more round-about method says cannabis law experts.
“It’s looking more and more likely that Vermont will be the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature instead of by a citizen ballot initiative,” Tom Angell, project oversight and communications director at Marijuana Majority, told reporters.
“This signals an important shift in the politics of marijuana.”
Vermont lawmakers have already started moving in the direction of legalization.
In 2015, they commissioned the drug policy experts at the RAND Corporation to produce a detailed report on options for legalizing cannabis.
Now it looks like 2016 may be their chance to put what they learned from the report to good use.