Governor Supports New Marijuana Legislation

LYNDONVILLE - Governor Phil Scott is standing by his decision to support new legislation to legalize possesson of small ammounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill passed the Senate this past summer and is currently waiting for debate on the House floor in Montpelier.

GOP State Senator, Joe Benning, was not surprised the Governor came out in support of the new marijuana bill. "I worked with his office, along with others, to incorporate the concerns he had into the bill," said Benning.

 

Governor Scott supported legalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the personal cultivation of a few plants as long as the bill addressed the issue of driver impairment.

Lyndonville Police Chief, Jack Harris, said, "One of the biggest concerns in law enforcement is the increase in people operating on the roadways while under the influence of marijuana." Chief Harris believes that by legalizing marijuana there won't be the same caution by those that use it while driving regardless of its legality.

According to Chief Harris there is no road side test to see if drivers are operating under the influence of marijuana. "The only way to test for driving under the influence of marijuana is by way of Drug Recognition Officers." Cheif Harris went on to eplain that, "if a drug recognition officer receives a positive reaction then the person goes to the hospital for a blood draw."

The new bill keeps the initial provisions regarding personal possession and cultivation. However, it also adds criminal penalties for using marijuana in a vehicle with children. It also creates stricter penalties for providing marijuana to those that are underage.

State Senator Benning believes there are some things for Vermont to gain from passing this marijuana legislation because there will be less people in court system, which saves the state court fees. "In addition, if we enter a tax and regulate model, a revenue stream will be created that doesn't currently exist."

Benning suggested that the new revenue could be used to help enforcement, education, and prevention that the state can't do right now. "We just don't have the funding necessary to properly combat our opioid epidemic, educate people on proper use of marijuana, and keep it out of the hands of those who shouldn't be using it. This money could assist in that effort."

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