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Reefer Madness
Legal Weed in the Green Mountain State?

Vermont is one of the states that has been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic during the past several years. But its legislature is moving ahead with a more laissez-faire drug policy nonetheless. Governing Magazine reports:

Vermont’s Legislature has become the first in the nation to approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill.

Vermont’s bill, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana possession in 2018 and anticipate the possibility of a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market, was approved by the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 79-66. The bill has already been passed by the Senate and will go directly to Gov. Phil Scott.

Other states have legalized marijuana following a voter referendum, but no state has yet legalized marijuana solely through the legislative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization advocates said bills were pending in other state legislatures.

It’s not clear yet whether the Governor will sign the bill. What is clear is that the nationwide momentum for marijuana legalization appears to be gathering, apparently unaffected by the opioid crisis that has led some drug libertarians to re-examine their view about the social consequences of easily accessible mind-altering substances.

We have said before that de-criminalizing marijuana in some form is probably the worst policy, except for all the others—provided that the drug remains heavily regulated and relatively pricey. Unfortunately, many states, like California, are moving forward with a much more relaxed form of legalization, where potent weed will be available for cheap, promoting a windfall for the industry at the expense of a small number of heavy users.

If the Vermont measure passes, hopefully the state takes a more conservative approach. But we’re not counting on it.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Hmmm. Vermont is one of the states that has been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic during the past several years while marijuana has been illegal. Doesn’t this suggest that the nationwide momentum for marijuana legalization appears to be gathering seems unlikely to make the opioid crisis any worse? Isn’t it possible that access to marijuana might actually lessen the demand for opiates? All that aside, the overwhelming argument for legalization is the 18th Amendment and all the crime that it caused.

  • Fat_Man

    “the opioid crisis that has led some drug libertarians to re-examine their view about the social consequences of easily accessible mind-altering substances.”

    I appreciate the toll that opiates have taken in Middle America. I live in Central Ohio where the fire is burning hot. I know people whose children have killed themselves with opiates.

    We must acknowledge that the War on Drugs has failed. Failed uterly, and expensively. The law enforcement method of curbing drug addiction is less than useless. It is insanity to continue it.

    Drug addiction is a moral, spiritual, and medical problem. Law enforcement has nothing useful to contribute. Most likely, government has nothing useful to contribute, except marginal amounts of money.

    Medical ethics puts forth as its first rule “Primum non nocere” which is a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm”. The war on drugs has done enormous harm. It is time to stop.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You’re right in several respects, but there is nothing “acceptable” about a substance being made supposedly legal at state level yet illegal at federal level. Wherever this situation exists, it is a legal fiction revealing dysfunctional government, period. Likewise, states looking forward to revenue from a substance which could/would get half or more of the population fired (or not hired) at work for off-the-clock use reveals state politicians with no moral compass. There is no justifying these state laws——however passed—–unless these two issues are reconciled so that legal means legal.

  • Joey Junger

    Honestly, to me, Vermont and how it conducts its business is as remote as Guam, Hawaii, or some other far-off jurisdiction. I live in the Midwest and I’m sure they don’t care about me and my state all that much, either, but federalism should allow for such laissez-fare attitudes as mutual indifference. When I think Vermont, I think ladies with hemp bags buying organic food, listening to NPR, and tending their garden patches while their eight cats watch from the porch. It seems like a racially and culturally monochromatic outpost from the cultural conflicts that rage in other, more diverse areas, rural but without being too redneck-ish. Let them practice cannibalism for all I care. Unlike other states in New England (*cough* Massachusetts) their public ivies don’t try to rule the hinterlands through idiotic policies. To quote Dave Chappelle: “Hey, hey, hey. Smoke weed everyday.”

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