March 16, 2016

Is Prohibition Working? Schedule 1 Marijuana Sends the Wrong Message

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Montpellier (March 16) – Discussion of S.241 bill to legalize marijuana has reached the House, after passing through the Senate and crossing over before last week’s March 11th deadline.

Much more hesitation exists among members of the House surrounding the provisions included and left out of the bill, than were present among Senate members.

Of particular concern to the committees present today were issues of highway safety, restricting access to youth, and where appropriate, mirroring legislation from other states.

Representative Chris Pearson (Burlington) opened the testimony.

“If you folks believe that cannabis prohibition is working then this is probably not a bill you’re going to spend a lot of time thinking about, it’s not something worth supporting. But most of us do not believe that prohibition is working, and the numbers seem to back that up,” Pearson stated in front of the audience of House committee members.

With $150 million dollars in illegal marijuana trade in the state on an annual basis, current prohibition efforts are far from managing or eliminating the presence of marijuana in the state.

A further point raised by Rep. Pearson is the dangerous implication being perpetuated by grouping marijuana in the same category as other prohibited schedule 1 drugs, including heroin, methamphetamines, and hallucinogens.

Pearson indicated that there are significant risks that arise from grouping marijuana in with other much more dangerous and harmful schedule 1 drugs.

“[Prohibition] prevents us from having a necessary and reality based discussion about the potential harm of using marijuana particularly on developing brains and lungs” said Pearson.

It also “diminishes the potency” of discussions about the real and immediate health and safety risks associated with schedule 1 drugs other than marijuana.

Pearson proposed that legalization is an opportunity to open the dialogue for more education surrounding the harms and risks of marijuana, as they differ considerably from those of other schedule 1 drugs.


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