Vermont Legislature: Will They Be First In The Nation To Legalize Marijuana?

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director September 2, 2015

    News reports out of Vermont indicate that a major political shift has just occurred that well positions the state legislature to become the first in the nation to end cannabis prohibition and replace with tax-n-regulate policies.

    The four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) that have chucked cannabis prohibition have done so by popular vote on binding ballot initiatives passed by citizens, not legislators. Historically, circa 1996, most all substantive cannabis law reforms at the state level have happened because of ballot initiatives, not legislation.Vote marijuana

    With national surveys and the vote totals in favor of legalizing cannabis in the four vanguard states equaling similar levels of support–54%–some elected officials have finally ‘got it’ about the need to end cannabis prohibition, if only because it is no longer politically popular.

    A state legislature voting in the majority for cannabis legalization, with a supportive governor awaiting passed legislation to sign, has yet to happen in America. Arguably, once a state legislature passes cannabis legalization legislation, this action more so than voter initiatives placed on the ballot by stakeholders in reform (be them civil justice groups or business interests) will likely spark a ‘reefer revolution’ among states that want the revenue and public policy controls that the long-failed federal prohibition does not provide them.

    With a largely supportive and anti-prohibtion legislature and governor (in Democrat Peter Shumlin) already in place in the Green Mountain state, the only political impediment was the Speaker of the House Shap Smith, who, in his run up to try to become the state’s next governor, has reversed his public stance on cannabis legalization from undecided to publicly endorsing Vermont legalizing cannabis:

    “It’s clear to me in my discussions with Vermonters that in general, the people in this state probably favor legalization. And I certainly believe that we can legalize marijuana if we do it right.” – House Speaker Shap Smith

    Will the Vermont legislature be the first one to officially legalize cannabis?

    Yesterday’s policy reversal from Speaker Smith almost certainly places Vermont in the lead to do so.

    33 responses to “Vermont Legislature: Will They Be First In The Nation To Legalize Marijuana?”

    1. Evening Bud says:

      This is potentially great news!

    2. Anonymous says:

      This would truly make Vermont the “Green” Mountain State, welcome aboard Shap. In related news, staunch prohibitionist Chris Christie is seriously delusional in focusing his efforts on winning the votes of New Hampshire (VT’s next door neighbor) when the majority of NH favors legalization (see http://thehill.com/regulation/249266-marijuana-legalization-popular-with-nh-voters). Jimmy Fallon should have let Christie leave early on 8/31 when Christie threatened to do so, that would have been great.

    3. mexweed says:

      So does Mr. Smith know how to do it right or is he waiting for more advice?

      1. “Tax-n-regulate”—- now is our chance to THINK TWICE about regulation? Maybe you have seen (or drawn) the Marley cartoon showing how to (single) vapetoke with a flexdrawtube one-hitter.

      (Please memorize and 20x regurgitate: REGULATE Use with 25-mg Utensil.)

      2. Now TWICE regulate with a dwbbleflexdrawtube woodclwnk one-hitter (with a 5.5mm/7/32″ socketwrench or hosenipple screencrater snugmounted on top, same 25-mg regulatory serving size as on single-stem models, and two 11″/27cm pvc tubes out the sides of the woodchunk or block, one in each mouth (Coffin Joe and the Cleaning Lady or any pair you can humorgraphicate with your penvapesize ballpointlet). Post your cartoons on whatever website and lay a green path of thousands of tweets linking to them.

      3. The controversy over the Responsible Ohio mascot suggests this cartoon-based (cheaper than caravans) character for Vermont: out of a smily-faced green mountain head grows a rieferlief like the ones on the emblem above, or a mature plant, or maybe two, as in two horns of dilemma, or maybe three, as in “Three Trees on a Hill.”

    4. mexweed says:

      PS If you find the Cleaning Lady etc. unseemly, try using Max Reger (maximum riefer)as the mascot(maxgod), googly-eyed man staring at you through oldstyle glasses, and in our Dwbbleregeratory cartoon Reger, right, sucking, serves toke to Brahms (left, with beard, sucking and staring at youviewer)— “Stare at Max Reger, it stares back.”

    5. Evan Ravitz says:

      Indeed, for a century, ballot initiatives have been the origin of most substantive reforms, from women’s suffrage and direct election of senators to minimum wage and sunshine laws, to renewable energy mandates and cannabis reforms.vote.org/initiatives
      This is a largely untold story, because the media kisses up to politicians, who mostly resent initiatives.

    6. Conner Pepper says:


    7. Miles says:

      Good News about Vermont. My family and I are trying to decide where to move to when we leave Nazi Virginia. Too bad that Vermont is way too cold in winter for me…

      Still, I salute any state, and in the case of Vermont the leaders of that state, that ends the draconian/idiotic marijuana prohibition policies!!!

      Most Republicans still don’t seem to get the message that marijuana is not what it was made out to be when prohibition was enacted; damn them! They will probably never get my support or that of just about anyone I know.

    8. Just An Observer says:

      “Probably”…LOL! Will someone sell this politician a vowel so he’ll have a clue?

    9. Jim says:

      i think we will see more of this. The will of the people is clear nationwide, so I believe more state legislatures will be looking to beat organizers to the punch, so that they can craft the language, which is of course good, and bad.

    10. guy velella says:

      Project Sam has a chapter in Vermont. That means theres no chance legalization could pass in the state legislature. Nobody hates Big Tobacco more than liberals in Vermont. Once Kevin Sabet tries to link Marijuana with Big Tobacco, all that will do is make Vermont hate marijuana too.

      [Editor’s note: Project SAM has had no effect on cannabis prohibition reform efforts anywhere…and with a majority of Vermonters wanting to end the failed prohibition; the governor, speaker of the house and senate majority leader advocating for law reforms, prohibitionists like Project SAM are going to continue to keep losing these public policy debates.]