March 18, 2016

Prohibition Isn’t Working

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Montpelier(Mar. 16) – The marijuana legalization bill began its journey through the statehouse today and has some lawmakers testifying for its approval.

“Prohibition isn’t working”, said Rep. Christopher Pearson (R-Chittenden) to the House Committee on Judiciary.

“Folks believe that prohibition is working,” Pearson said, “and this isn’t a bill you’re probably going to spend a lot of time thinking about. It’s not something worth supporting.”

He said that the some fellow lawmakers believe that prohibition isn’t working and the numbers match their opinions, with about 80,000 Vermonters reporting using marijuana within the last month.

Some of the damaging aspects of prohibition come from marijuana being put in the same category as heroin, meth and hallucinogens, Pearson said.

“By lumping cannabis in with these much more dangerous substances, a few things happen,” Pearson said,”For one, It prevents us from having a necessary and reality based discussion about the potential harm of using marijuana, particularly on developing brains and developing lungs.”

Pearson also said that by keeping marijuana illegal, it decreases the seriousness of anti drug talks, when you try and talk to young people about the dangers of heroin and marijuana.

“When I advocate taxing and regulating cannabis the way we treat alcohol and tobacco, part of the motivation is to have a very frank and honest discussion with Vermonters of all ages about what the harms are and what the harms are not,” He said.

“Until we end prohibition, I don’t think we can do that,” Pearson said.

“I don’t think weed should be put in the same category with hard drugs,” said Elizabeth Boley, a junior at UVM.

She said that marijuana has some positive aspects, such as using it to treat medical issues and that nothing positive comes out of using harder drugs, such as heroin or meth.

“It’s not a public health risk, the same way other prohibited drugs are,” Boley said.

The bill, titled S.241, passed the Senate, February, 25 with a 17-12 vote and now has to be voted through the House of Representatives.

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