Vermont Legalizes Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Joe | Jun 03, 2011 | Comments 5
Yesterday Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin (D) signed a bill that allows four medical marijuana dispensaries to be set up in the state. Now patients have another option to receive their medicine; they have been able to legally grow their own since 2004.
The Marijuana Policy Project spent a lot of time in Vermont over the last couple years and sent out an email alert yesterday praising the Governor and legislators in the state.
Vermont is now the 8th state with a law that explicitly authorizes dispensaries where patients can legally purchase medical marijuana. (And, overall, medical marijuana is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.)
A few weeks ago — the day before the Vermont House was slated to vote on the dispensary bill — Gov. Shumlin and legislative leaders received a threatening letter from the federal prosecutor’s office in Vermont. MPP’s team immediately addressed concerns about the feds with the Vermont House and the governor’s team. And, as a result, the House passed the measure by a whopping 99-44 vote — while a copy of the federal prosecutor’s letter was sitting on the desk of each House member!
This was a major victory for MPP and patient advocates. MPP funded a two-year lobbying campaign in Montpelier to pass the measure. We started by finding the best bill sponsors we could find, including then-Senate President Pete Shumlin. We then helped elect Shumlin to the governorship through our political action committee.
With another governor, the federal prosecutor’s letter could have killed the bill. Gov. Shumlin, the Vermont Senate, and the Vermont House are all to be commended for their compassion.
Another victory for medical marijuana patients as another state moves toward full access to a safer alternative to dangerous prescription drugs. To some the piecemeal approach seems slow, but it is clearly effective. More and more states now offer legal protection to medical cannabis patients and a array of services to help facilitate their medical needs. And while it’s true that millions of patients in need have no protection from their state’s authorities, the day is getting closer when they will.
Small, positive steps continue to move us toward our goal of keeping cannabis users out of jail.