Beyond Decriminalization

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A Vermont legislator has introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana possession, cultivation, and sale. Residents 21 and older would be permitted to possess up to one ounce, which they could obtain from licensed and regulated retailers. The Marijuana Policy Project says this is the first bill of its kind, going well beyond "decriminalization" laws that typically reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts to a modest fine. The MPP press release (not online yet) quotes the bill's author, state Rep. Winston Dowland, who says:

My hope is to spark an honest conversation about marijuana prohibition–both locally and nationally….Prohibition simply has not worked. Marijuana was virtually unheard-of when its sales were first banned in Vermont in 1915. Now, after 90 years of prohibition, nearly 10% of Vermonters use it each month. Nationally, arrests for marijuana possession are running over 660,000 per year–more than the entire population of Vermont–and what is the result? Eighty-seven percent of high school seniors tell government survey-takers that marijuana is easy to get. How many more billions of dollars are we going to spend on this failed policy before we stop and consider whether there might not be a better way?

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  1. Jacob Sullum,

    Keep in mind that Burlington has just banned smoking in “private clubs”; meaning something like the Elks Lodge.

  2. Gary,

    How’s the weather under that perpetual cloud floating over your head?

  3. I assume that this bill has zero chance of passing, but it’s always nice to see. And although I’m sure it will be voted down by a huge margin (or, more likely, killed in committee) it will be interesting to see who the few dissenting voices are. I wouldn’t make too many assumptions about where those dissenting votes will come from, but I’ll be interested to see the outcome.

  4. Gary,

    Until they ban the sale of cigs, I see no logical inconsistency between these two positions. Thus, the same (liberal control freak “don’t pollute my rarefied air”) supporters of the smoking ban could also support this bill.

    Although this leads to a regulated marketplace, this isn’t too different from the ballot initiative that almost passed in Alaska last fall…and that didn’t lose by much.

  5. I hate to be a buzz-kill, but this won’t pass even if the survival of all Vermont resisdents depended on it. The Drug Warriors might not have stopped the sale and use of drugs, but it has engrained the “just-say-no-drugs-are-evil” mentality into most Americans. No amont of logic, or history will change that view. Drug prohibition is based upon the stupidest and most irrational of human impulses: Faith. It has to work because it is “good,” even when it doesn’t.

  6. All red, half-closed eyes are watching Vermont..

  7. I have always thought legalizing personal cultivation is a smart way to decriminalize pot. It would be similar to home brewing or wine making. I can brew a batch of lager in my basement to share with friends and family. I just can?t sell it to anyone without the proper licensing. Too bad it will never happen. Oh well. Back to tending to my hydroponic “tomatoes.”

    We should also throw all Reasonoid support behind this other piece of brilliant legislation.

    http://theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4109&n=1

  8. I just noticed that the bills author, Rep. Winston Dowland, said he wanted to “spark” an honest convesation. Get it? Spark?

    *sinicker*

    Man these are good tomatoes.

  9. thoreau,

    My cynicism makes me feel the same way – it has no chance of passing but it helps the Drug Warriors find out who them softies on pot are.

  10. Russ D-

    I didn’t even think about that angle. I was thinking it would be nice for us to find out who the like-minded people are, but it will also help the Drug Warriors figure out who needs to be “disciplined.”

  11. Dowland was elected running as a member of the Progressive Party. The other co-sponsor Deen is a Democrat.

  12. Remember those old movie scenes where the hero stands up to and scotches an incipient lynch mob?
    That’s what makes me optimistic about this Dowland guy.

  13. MP,

    Until they ban the sale of cigs, I see no logical inconsistency between these two positions.

    As I recall, there are a number Vermont legislators who would do just that if they could. There is a heck of lot of discussion about banning smoking in homes where children reside.

    Anyway, the other posters are right; this bill is going nowhere and Governor Douglas wouldn’t sign it. Douglas is an old-fashioned “throw them in prison” sort of guy.

  14. scaredy anon,

    Damp. 🙂

  15. So what if smoking is illegal. If MJ was legal and cheap you’d be better off (both for your buzz and health) ingesting it rather than inhaling it.

  16. Relax, Gary, most of the guys at the Elks Lodge are hooked up to oxygen tanks anyway.

  17. I boldly predict sales of Cheetos will reach unheard of levels inside Vermont if this passes.

  18. I think E-Rock has a good point – its better eaten than smoked. Less waste.

    I like to soak 1 oz in 750 mls of overproof rum with a cinnamon stick for 3 months. My brother thinks I am a barbarian.

    Prohibition is a tragedy.

  19. Don Mynack has a good point. Has the drug reform movement ever tried to solicit funding from Frito Lay or the Cartoon Network?

    Then again, if John Banzhaf found out that Big Food was funding any measure to legalize pot, well, we all know what would happen next.

  20. “I like to soak 1 oz in 750 mls of overproof rum with a cinnamon stick for 3 months. My brother thinks I am a barbarian.”

    3 months !!!!! but I want to get stoned now.

    Also how much do you drink of this. Is there a way to do this without alcohol for those who don’t want to get drunk at the same time as they are smoking.

  21. zeroentitlement,

    I guess that explains their promise to sue Burlington.

  22. I would like to see a State have the guts to repeal all of their drug laws. In my state they simply duplicate the federal law. A State could say all drugs are a matter of federal law. You all can enforce your drug laws and our local lawmen will enforce all the laws which we still have plenty of.

    Now that would be something to see.

    Gun laws, same thing. Yahoo!

  23. And they have the most liberal gun laws. Now they can watch the bullets in flight.

  24. bushie: “I would like to see a State have the guts to repeal all of their drug laws. In my state they simply duplicate the federal law. A State could say all drugs are a matter of federal law. You all can enforce your drug laws and our local lawmen will enforce all the laws which we still have plenty of.”

    This is exactly what New York did with Prohibition under Governor Al Smith–it repealed its Prohibition Enforcement Act. Smith made no secret of his opposition to Prohibition but denied he was encouraging lawlessness by signing the repeal. He said the law simply left the responsibility of Prohibition enforcement to the federal government, where it belonged.

  25. Hell, I’d move there for that, despite the cold winters. I take it one could replace one’s ounce as often as desired?

    better eaten than smoked. Less waste.

    Vidkun, know of any reliable web pages elaborating on this?

  26. Hell, I’d move there for that, despite the cold winters.

    Factor in the most liberal (in the classical sense) gun laws in the country, and VT with legalized pot would have a lot going for it.

    I’d move there, and I don’t even use pot.

    Sadly, it almost certainly won’t happen.

  27. BUSHIE: I would like to see a State have the guts to repeal all of their drug laws…..
    Now that would be something to see.

    SH: Ask and Ye Shall Receive

    http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v05/n357/a03.html

  28. D Anghelone,

    Per a 1890s VTSC ruling, you have a right to carry a concealed weapon in Vermont.

    thoreau,

    The problem is all the other liberal (in the non-classical sense) crap that goes on in VT. Why do you think towns in Vermont (like Killington) are trying to secede and become part of New Hampshire?!?! 🙂

  29. thoreau,

    And this is no fanciful effort on the part of Killington. They’ve hired lawyers, etc., and undertaken much of the process in order to secede.

  30. Eat it?! No way. To me, it’s a much, much heavier feeling.. like being under water. Plus it takes too long.

    To quote an old Simpsons episode: “Fire makes it GOOD!!” 🙂

  31. Vidkun, know of any reliable web pages elaborating on this?

    http://www.marijuana.com They’ve got a fairly active message board as well, with lots of people who need to be educated on the glories of less government. I encourage all to go there. 😛

    And you’re not going to be drinking the rum people, it evaporates off. You’re then left with … Something pretty cool and very sticky. 😉

  32. …Not that I would know anything about this.

  33. doesn’t that take the good stuff with it, however?

    i’ve never been to vermont. it seems pretty.

  34. all this rum talk made me curious. Submitted for your approval,

    http://www.marijuana.com/420/showthread.php?t=24364

    according to those dudes, the thc will dissolve in the alcohol, so the weed will no longer be good to smoke.

  35. Silly, kids. Yes, the THC dissolves in the alcohol. Then the alcohol evaporates. What’s left is a sticky substance… Ever hear of “hash”?

    Good times.

  36. Go Dowland. Finally, someone steps forward with some intelligence who doesn’t care about losing his job. He just may, but I sure hope not. He’s a real rarity in a world of stupid justice system morons. Great thinking!

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