April 8, 2016

Lawmaker’s Concerns Rise After Legalization Hearing

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Montpelier (April. 6) – Lawmakers expressed concern over proposed marijuana bill not allowing Vermonters to grow their own weed.

“They all come up to the microphone and say ‘I just want to grow one [marijuana]plant in my garden with my tomatoes,’”  Rep. William Jewett(D-Addison), vice chair for the House Committee on Judiciary said about last Thursday’s public hearing.

The current bill, S.241 as passed by the Senate, does not allow for homegrown, but lawmakers said they hope to “phase it in” after a few years.

Jewett said he would like to research the possibility of introducing homegrown weed into the bill.

“The question is whether or not we can craft that bill,” he said.

Michele Childs, of the  legislative council said there is a number of people who have a more “community based” view on homegrown.

“It’s not like they’re trading pickles for weed, but there’s sharing community base,” she said.

According to Vermont law, the possession of 1-2 weed plants is currently a misdemeanor, however, lawmakers have expressed concern for what legalization of regulated weed only would mean for home growers.

“I’m concerned that S.241…is possibly creating unintended criminals,”  said Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Washington), chair for the committee.

Rep. Barbara Rachelson (D-Chittenden) said she felt that legalization of homegrown would eliminate pesticide filled weed being transported in by “bad actors”.

“Homegrown can minimize business for traffickers,” Rachelson said.

Kevin Ellis, lobbyist for Ellis Mills Public Affairs, said he thinks Jewett wants to oppose the Senate bill and write his own.

Ellis, whose client is SAM-VT an anti-marijuana organization, said his job is to make sure the committee doesn’t write their own and just kills the bill instead.

“My goal is to make it as hard as possible for Judiciary make their own bill,” Ellis said.

The House Committee on Judiciary may vote on S.241 as early as Friday.

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