March 25, 2016

Marijuana Legalization Bill Raises Questions of Public Safety

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Montpelier VT (Mar 24) – “I have seen literally thousands of examples of the effects of marijuana. It does not fit the narrative that is being spun to you,” Michael Schirling, the Public Safety Consultant and retired Burlington Chief of Police testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee. He expressed frustration with how marijuana is being framed in this conversation.

The marijuana legalization bill, S.241, recently passed in the Senate and is now before the House Judiciary Committee – where it is raising serious concerns about public and highway safety. Schirling explained to the committee that he would advise to hold off on legalization until the federal government rescheduled marijuana so more reliable and extensive research would be available. He cited research from Colorado that long-term marijuana use is possibly linked to psychosis.


Currently, there are only 30 drug recognition experts in the state who are trained and equipped to determine if someone is impaired while driving. A roadside test is being developed that can detect the active ingredient Delta 9 THC – which only remains in the body for approximately four hours.


Keith Flynn, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, stressed the effects legalization would have on highway safety.  He informed the committee that each individual roadside test for Delta 9 THC would cost $3,000. “I just want to do everything we can to make our highways safer,” Flynn concluded.


The committee will continue to hear testimony for the bill Wednesday, March 30th.

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