Pubdate: Wed, 7 Nov 2007
Source: Seven Days Vermont (Burlington, VT)
Column: Inside Track
Copyright: 2007 Seven Days Vermont
Author: Peter Freyne
Note: Relevant part of a longer column.
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Monday evening's Ch. 3 report by Brian Joyce has stirred up some dust.
He reported that Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell was critical of
a county prosecutor's decision to drop a felony charge for pot
possession against a 62-year-old Windsor County lawyer.

According to Joyce, Sorrell said that "on the surface," State's
Attorney Bobby Sand's decision "doesn't pass the straight-face test,
giving a total pass for possession and cultivation of this much of an
illegal drug."

Joyce told viewers that Sand told him "all first-time offenders for
pot possession get diversion."

If that's the case, Sorrell said, Windsor County is definitely the
place for pot growers to move to.

That drew an email from pot-legalization advocate Sandy Ward, who
wrote Sorrell (and copied yours truly along with a couple lawmakers).
Ward recalled Sorrell's support for medical-marijuana legislation back
in 2002. She noted that the AG based his support for the bill on "the
cost" to the state.

"One of the shortcomings of any interaction with the media," Sorrell
wrote back, "is that the reporter reports what you said that he/she
believes best tells the story the reporter seeks to tell . . . I never
said that attorney [Martha] Davis should go to jail. But two-plus
pounds of pot on hand and a significant grow operation in place does
not readily lend itself to the view that this was an innocent self-use

Sorrell also writes that he believes in "prosecutorial discretion and
the obligation of prosecutors to seek justice, and not just prosecute
everyone who commits antisocial and/or illegal acts."

Still, he wonders about the message being sent.

"Does it seem just that two Vermonters living 10 miles apart in two
different counties might be treated very differently for the same conduct?"

Good point.

Maybe Windsor County is merely pointing all of Vermont in the right
direction, eh, General Billy?