January 29, 2016

Vermont’s Voice on Cannabis Legalization

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After a quick introduction of the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of strongly opinionated individuals stood at the front of the Grand Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center at UVM to share some thoughts, facts, and stories regarding their experiences with cannabis. Done so in the hopes of influencing the council either for or against its legalization in Vermont, this public hearing was held in a room filled with advocates, concerned citizens, observers, and cameras.

The backgrounds of those who spoke ranged from high school guidance counselors to public health professionals to UVM professors and a wide variety of stances came from all sides. One recurring theme throughout the evening was a public safety concern, especially for our youth. Many people in favor of legalization argued that it would be less available to those who are underage if controlled. On the other hand, there were disputes that the rate of use would increase for young people and it would be considered more acceptable and safe if legalized.

One man stated that marijuana is, “the safest substance known to mankind” and supported this claim with the fact that no one has ever overdosed from it, even going so far as to declare it, “safer than orange juice, safer than water”. Though seemingly extreme to some, this passion and adamancy was seen just as strongly on the other side of the conversation as one woman claimed that legalizing marijuana would be possibly, “one of the biggest public health mistakes of [her] lifetime”.

During the hour I was there sixteen people spoke, with a majority in favor of legalization (11 total), but the conversation seemed far from over and with the many implications either decision would result in, I believe there is much more to be discussed, researched, and understood.

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