Proposed bill may legalize possession and sale of marijuana

Although marijuana possession was decriminalized in Vermont in 2013, one Vermont senator recently introduced a new bill to legalize both possession and distribution, according to a Feb. 18 press release by the Marijuana Policy Project .

The bill, S. 95, introduced by Senator David Zuckerman, proposes the establishment of a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults ages 21 and older.

Marijuana would be taxed and regulated like alcohol, according to the press release.

Adults 21 years and older would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow at most two mature marijuana plants and seven immature plants in a secure indoor location, according to the press release.

It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive while under the influence of marijuana, according to a press release.

Sophomore Shannon McNeil said she supports the bill.

“I think it’s an amazing idea, personally, and I definitely plan to vote in favor of it,” she said.

Matt Simon, New England political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said his organization did have some input into the proposition. S

Simon said he feels confident that the bill will be passed this session or next year.

Regardless of personal views on the use of marijuana, prohibition is an issue that has implications for the economy, civil liberties and criminal justice, Simon said.

“Vermonters are spending about $125 million to $225 million per year buying marijuana from the illicit market,” he said. “What we could instead be doing is regulating marijuana, allowing all of that money to flow into state-regulated Vermont businesses that pay taxes and follow regulations that require an ID, that don’t also sell heroin.”

“If the money made from taxes on recreational marijuana serves as any indication of the success of legalization in Colorado, then clearly legalization in the Green Mountain state should be looked at with legitimacy – as more than a ‘pipe dream,’”  sophomore Caroline O’Kane said.

Naomi Vass, a UVM sophomore, said it makes sense for Vermonters to be able to choose whether or not marijuana should be legal.

“It should be at the state level,” Vass said. “Cops should be worrying about the heroin problem, instead of wasting resources going after people who sniff a plant that makes them hungry.”