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?