Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jan 2015
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2015 Burlington Free Press
Author: April Burbank


MONTPELIER - Gov. Peter Shumlin says his days of smoking marijuana 
are over, even if the Vermont Legislature votes to legalize the drug.

Shumlin stopped using marijuana as he grew into adulthood, he 
recounted during a news conference at the Statehouse.

"Been there, done that," Shumlin said. "My guess is that a lot of 
Vermonters of my generation feel like I do about marijuana, which is, 
it is something we smoked when we were young. ... As I took on more 
responsibility or I don't know what in my late 20s, I just found that 
it wasn't much fun anymore.

"Boy, my staff's going to kill me for that," he added.

The governor's aides were sitting nearby in his ceremonial office as 
Shumlin spoke during a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Montpelier.

Shumlin said he believes Vermont should legalize marijuana but has 
approached the topic carefully, waiting to take lessons from Colorado 
and Washington, which have authorized a retail marijuana market.

If Vermont lawmakers pursue legal marijuana, the regulatory system 
might not look like the set-up in Colorado or Washington. A lengthy 
report on the options was released Jan. 16.

The report, written by the Rand Corporation based in California, 
found that Vermont could reap millions of dollars of tax revenue by 
allowing a legal marijuana industry, but the highest tax revenues 
depend on becoming the first state in the Northeast to do so.

Shumlin said Tuesday he does not care whether Vermont legalizes 
marijuana before or after neighboring states. The decision should not 
be based on the allure of tax revenue, he said.

Vermonters who oppose marijuana legalization have raised numerous 
public-safety and public-health concerns, including fears of impaired 
driving and negative effects on children and teens.

After considering the Rand report, Shumlin said Vermont should avoid 
problems with marijuana edibles and mentioned he'd like to see 
"hybrid" distribution systems in Vermont.

The report discusses a range of distribution systems, including a 
marijuana supply chain operated by the government, a supply chain 
based on for-profit retail companies, and a supply chain operated by 
nonprofit organizations.

Shumlin said repeatedly he wants to watch Colorado and Washington. He 
said Vermont's experience with medical marijuana dispensaries - 
waiting until other states had made mistakes - was a good model for 
the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

"I would argue that our dispensaries have been doing a great job, 
that they have not become a market for folks outside of medical need 
to get access to marijuana, and that we got that one right," Shumlin 
said. "So there's a great example of why it's smart to wait."

Shumlin declined to lay out a time line of when he expects Vermont 
could legalize marijuana.

"Will you be governor at the time?" countered reporter Stewart 
Ledbetter of WPTZ.

"You bet," Shumlin said, smiling.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom