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Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin presented his ideals plan of action to legalize marijuana yesterday during his annual State Of The State address. He made it clear, acknowledging how archaic marijuana laws are throughout the nation. “The ‘war on drugs’ has also failed and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws”. He also mentioned that over 80,000 Vermont residents had admitted to purchasing marijuana illegally within the past year, even though they were more than aware that marijuana possession had been decriminalised in the state in 2013. “The black market of drug dealers selling marijuana for recreational use is alive and well,” he said.

Within his proposal he hit another warranted point, he clarified how sales within the black market equated to a lack of regulations. “These illegal dealers couldn’t care less how young their customers are or what’s in the product they sell, or what illegal drugs you buy from their stash, much less whether they pay taxes on their earnings.”

Shumlin approved the 2013 decriminalization ruling along with Vermont’s steps to “change our criminal penalties and to institute a well-regulated medical marijuana system”.

“This careful approach shows that we know how to regulate marijuana thoughtfully and cautiously, avoiding the pitfalls that have caused other states to stumble where Vermont succeeded,” he said.

He is hoping to end the “era of prohibition” with a bill to officially legalize marijuana. Governor Shumlin made it apparent that it would need to be done “thoughtfully and carefully” after seeing and learning from the mistakes of other states.

Shumlin illustrated five key requirements of any legalization regime, saying such a system should:

  • Have protections in place to keep adolescents from buying
  • Feature taxes modest enough to keep prices low, and hence put black-market sellers out of business
  • Provide tax revenue to expand addiction prevention programs
  • strengthen existing DUI laws
  • Ban the sale of edible marijuana products that have proven vexing in Colorado and elsewhere, at least until the state can figure out how to regulate them properly.

“I understand that the Senate will go first and I look forward to working with Senate Pro Tem John Campbell, Senate Leadership, Senator Sears and the Senate Judiciary Committee to construct a sensible, cautious bill,” he added.

The pro-legalisation Drug Policy Alliance praised Shumlin’s move and said that other governors should follow definitely suit. “I’m hopeful this is the start of a new trend,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the group’s executive director.


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