Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2011
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2011 Times Argus
Author: Thatcher Moats


MONTPELIER -- Gov. Peter Shumlin on Thursday signed into law a bill
that allows up to four medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop
in Vermont.

The bill passed the Legislature this year amid opposition from some
leaders in the state's law enforcement community, and Vermont is now
the eighth state in the country to give registered medical marijuana
users a place to get the drug.

Vermont has allowed medical marijuana since 2004 and there are more
than 300 people on the state's registry. The law allows patients or
caregivers to grow a limited amount of marijuana, but advocates for
the dispensary bill argue it can be difficult to grow marijuana and
it's dangerous to buy it on the black market.

Sen. Jeanette White, who chairs the Senate Committee on Government
Operations that took extensive testimony on the bill, said the state
left medical marijuana users in a tough spot by granting the right to
use the drug, but not a reliable way to get it.

"We left people in a terrible position where we allow medication for
legitimate symptom relief and no way to get it legally, and now we're
providing safe access to a safe product," White said.

Medical marijuana dispensaries won't crop up immediately.

The Vermont Department of Public Safety, which will regulate
dispensaries, is in the process of developing rules to carry out the
new law, White said.

White said it could take six to seven months to develop the

The dispensaries law, however, requires the Department of Public
Safety to issue four licenses within a year -- provided people apply
and meet the strict requirements.

That provision was added, White said, because of the "possibility
someone could say 'We're not going to do this,' and drag the rules out
for the next three years.'"

But when it comes to getting dispensaries up and running, White said,
the Department of Public Safety is "really taking this seriously."

White said she has been communicating with two people interested in
setting up dispensaries.

A spokeswoman for Shumlin did not immediately respond to a request for
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