Shumlin Disses Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Plan | Off Message
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Shumlin Disses Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Plan

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 6:22 PM

click to enlarge Gov. Peter Shumlin - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
It’s well-known that Gov. Peter Shumlin is gung-ho about having Vermont pass a law this year to legalize marijuana. But Massachusetts? Shumlin is not so keen on that state’s legalization efforts.

Shumlin wrote an op-ed on the subject on March 18. He referred to a measure on which Massachusetts residents are scheduled to vote in November as a “bad pot bill.”

Never mind that it’s actually a referendum, not a bill.

Shumlin argued, “If Massachusetts moves forward with their legalization bill while Vermont delays, the entire southern part of our state could end up with all the negatives of a bad pot bill and none of the positives of doing the right thing.”

The Vermont governor noted that if Massachusetts approves legalization, it will allow edible marijuana products, smoking lounges, home delivery and possession of up to 10 ounces. A bill that the Vermont Senate has passed and is pending in the House would allow possession of up to an ounce, no edibles, no lounges, no delivery.

Massachusetts newspapers picked up Shumlin’s sentiments in articles that ran this past weekend. From a Massachusetts lens, it looked as though Vermont’s pro-legalization governor — he’s taken in thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from pro-marijuana groups — was suggesting Bay Staters ought to vote against legalization.

Not so, Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said Monday. 

“The governor is going to let Massachusetts voters decide that question,” Coriell said. “It would be pretty hard to do worse than the current failed war-on-drugs policy of marijuana prohibition.”

In Massachusetts, however, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol found itself fending off Shumlin’s criticisms. Jim Borghesani, the group’s communications director, told the State House News Service, “He seems to focus on edibles as a negative, and unfortunately, I think he’s falling into the same exaggerations when it comes to edibles that a lot of other people have.”

Shumlin may be making things harder for Massachusetts legalization advocates, but his comments appear to be directed more at his home turf. He’s trying to use Massachusetts’ November vote as leverage to get a Vermont law on the books.

If Vermont passes a bill this year, it would be the first state to legalize marijuana through legislative action rather than by a public vote, which allows the state to more specifically tailor the law, Shumlin noted.

“The bill passed by the Vermont Senate would represent the most careful, deliberate attempt to regulate marijuana in America,” Shumlin wrote. “We can be the first state to do it right.”

And then if Massachusetts voters approve legalization, there’d be nothing to keep Vermonters from heading to Massachusetts for edibles and lounges. But that is an op-ed for another day.


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About The Author

Terri Hallenbeck

Terri Hallenbeck

Bio:
Terri Hallenbeck is a Seven Days staff writer covering politics, the Legislature and state issues.

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