April 2, 2016

Vermont citizens debate marijuana legalization

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Montpelier (Mar 31) – Over 40 different Vermont citizens were able to share their stance on marijuana legalization with the House Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations this Thursday. Those speaking were given only two minutes to share their thoughts whether pro, con, or undecided about legalization though many took less than the allotted time. “Let’s start over and get it right” said one citizen who believes that the Vermont lawmakers need to slow down, throw out the current bill, and start over to create a better one that includes more of what the people want.

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Students presenting spoken word skit on the potential dangers of marijuana legalization and usage.

Arguments against legalization ranged from public health concerns to protest over language that would exclude small farmers from being able to grow, and everything in between. Two students from Montpelier High School presented a powerful spoken word skit to the committees detailing how marijuana ruins young peoples’ lives and how they have seen it happen to their peers. Another anti-legalization testimony was given by Sarah Mason, a drug and alcohol counselor, who stated that THC, a chemical in marijuana, can prime the brain to respond more quickly and positively to opioids. This argument holds a lot of weight because Vermont already has a large problem with opioid abuse.

Those who argued in favor of legalization cited reasons like easier medicinal access, increased personal safety when buying, and regulation that would protect kids more by driving moral-less drug dealers who sell to kids out of business. One owner of Skinny Pancake testified stating that Vermont cannot wait on legalization any longer because lives are being ruined through excessive incarceration rates due to possession. He also stated that drug education needs to be based on facts as one of his step-children was told in health class that “marijuana is just as bad as heroin”. The local business owner also stated that we need to “separate legalizing and condoning”.

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