Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin may leave office on a high note next year if his state becomes the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana through its Legislature. It's an “enlightened” prospect, according to the Democratic governor, who is approaching the end of his third and final term.
“There is no question that the war on drugs has failed when it comes to marijuana policy, that America is going to move to a more sensible policy state by state,” Shumlin said in an exclusive interview with Time magazine. “I think the more enlightened states are trying to get ahead of this one.”
Legislation that would legalize weed has passed the Vermont Senate and is now being considered in the House. Dispensary operators have told lawmakers they expect legalizing recreational marijuana would stabilize the financial market for medical pot in the state. A majority of Vermonters, given the opportunity to express their opinion to their Legislature on Thursday night, voiced support for going ahead and letting people toke up on their own accord.
For Shumlin, legalizing marijuana is a no-brainer compared to some of the more pressing drug problems that face communities in his state and the U.S.
“We’re all spending huge amounts of energy focusing on the evils of pot smoking and we hardly talk about the fact that in 2010, we sold enough drugs legally through our pharmacies in the form of OxyContin to keep every adult American high for a month,” Shumlin told Time. “That has led to death, destruction, addiction to heroin that’s affecting every state in America.”
Vermont in particular has a serious heroin problem.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) April 1, 2016
Should Vermont vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it would join four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia that legalized pot for all uses through voter initiatives. Twenty-three states already have medical marijuana laws on the books. Marijuana advocates say that there are about 11 states where recreational marijuana may become a reality in the near term.