UVM tops “reefer” list

UVM currently weighs in at No. 6 on The Princeton Review’s list of top “Reefer Madness” higher education institutions.

According to students, it’s no secret that this drug is widely used at UVM.

“I can’t think of one person I know who doesn’t smoke pot,” junior Chris McCarthy said.

McCarthy said that he chooses to abstain from using the drug himself.

The state of Vermont also  follows this trend with just more than 15 percent of the state’s population having consumed marijuana in the last year, according to CBS News.

This is the second highest percentage in the nation, according to CBS.

The state decriminalized adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in 2013, making such possession punishable by a fine, according to governor Peter Shumlin’s webpage.

“This change just makes common sense,” Shumlin said.

“Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana,” he said.

In 2004 Vermont passed S. 76, an act relating to marijuana use by persons with severe illness.

This exempt certain persons from state law regarding the personal use of marijuana, according to www.vermont.gov.

Currently, the state allows four medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

They’re located in Burlington, Montpelier, Brattleboro and Brandon, according to VTDigger.

“I heard they [medical dispensaries] existed, but I’ve never seen them,” an anonymous male sophomore said.

“I’ve never purchased pot that came from a Vermont dispensary,” he said. “It’s usually homegrown in the state or brought in from somewhere like Colorado or Cali.”

The sophomore asked to remain anonymous so that he may not incriminate himself.

State legislature is currently discussing a bill to open two more dispensaries, and expand the current businesses, according to VTDigger.

“It’s [Vermont medicinal marijuana] too controlled for expanding to be a real issue,” junior Angus Murray said.

“I didn’t even know there was a Burlington dispensary.”

The Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police opposes such laws, and issued a statement citing their concern for health risks, highway safety and employment issues as reasons urging the state not to legalize or expand marijuana facilities, according to WPTZ.

“This is an area where I am happy to continue to let other governors lead, but I am open to the conversation,” Shumlin said in a letter to the association.

Law enforcement officials are also in the process of discussing H. 501 with senators.

This bill lowers the standard of proof for convicting individuals on drugged driving, VTDigger stated.

“I’ll be honest, I drive high all the time,” an anonymous female senior stated.

“It’s definitely not the safest, but I don’t think they need to expand any laws about driving high – the people they need to be concerned with will be easy to catch.”

The senior wished to remain anonymous so that she may not incriminate herself.

Under current laws, the DUI-alcohol standard is a .08 blood alcohol concentration, or that a driver is “impaired to the slightest degree,” according to VTDigger.

The current DUI-drug law states that a person must be incapable of driving safely.

Prosecutors said this results in attorneys arguing their client was on drugs and not driving safely, but was not incapable of driving safely, according to VTDigger.

“It’s so dependent on the individual, it’s impossible to standardize how much pot you’ve smoked or what is too high to drive,” McCarthy said.

“I think it would be pretty clear, the officer would be able to tell is someone is really incapable of driving,” junior Will Sherman said. “I don’t think that requires more laws.”

First-year Lizzie Leonard said that the law is “subjective.”

“It’s very important for the police to be able to accurately tell if someone isn’t able to be in control behind the wheel and be capable of safe driving,” she said.

Among other skeptical senators, Senator Jeanette White, raised concerns about individuals being charged unnecessarily, VTDigger stated.

“I think we are creating a police state,” White said.

As the discussion between law enforcement and lawmakers continues about the marijuana and drugged driving policy, any decisions will requisite the approval of the Governor, or an overwhelming majority.

Governor Shumlin’s largest campaign contributor in 2011 through 2012 was the Marijuana Policy Project, according to VTDigger.