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Friday, November 10, 2017

Massachusetts to Hire a Cannabis Inspector

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:21 PM

This could be you - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • This could be you
Looks like legal weed is already sprouting new state job opportunities in Massachusetts.

The Bay State plans to hire a cannabis inspector to work in its Department of Agricultural Resources. The November 3 job posting is open until the position is filled, but those applying in the first 14 days will get precedence.

“This inspector position will enforce the laws and regulations involving hemp and overlapping laws and regulations that impact the cultivation of marijuana,” the posting reads.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Few Vermont Inmates Receive Heralded New Addiction Treatment

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 6:32 PM

  • Dreamstime
Nearly two years after Vermont launched a federally funded program to provide a new opiate addiction treatment to inmates, only 11 of them have received it.

At a widely covered press conference in December 2015, then-governor Peter
Shumlin announced that a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services would allow the state to start providing Vivitrol to inmates about to be released from prison, as well as to patients at residential treatment facilities.

Vivitrol reduces cravings and blocks opiate highs for about a month. For inmates who haven't been able to access treatment such as methadone or Suboxone while in prison, it can serve as a bridge, giving them some stability while they line up a longer-term recovery plan. Studies have shown that recently incarcerated people are at a heightened risk of overdosing.

The initiative attracted national attention when it was launched, but it's only benefited a handful of inmates. DOC has administered 11 injections since the start of the three-year pilot in 2016 — 10 at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland, where the program was first launched, and one at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot compared to what we started with. For months and months and months we were at one person, so an increase to 11 is actually pretty good,” said Corrections Commissioner Lisa Menard.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Walters: Pot Commission to Discuss Path to Legalization

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 5:26 PM

Marijuana Advisory Commission cochairs Jake Perkinson and Tom Little, and the governor's chief counsel, Jaye Pershing Johnson - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Marijuana Advisory Commission cochairs Jake Perkinson and Tom Little, and the governor's chief counsel, Jaye Pershing Johnson
Governor Phil Scott's Marijuana Advisory Commission held its first meeting Thursday and got a very clear charge: Assume that Vermont will legalize cannabis in some way or other, and devise the best and safest way to get there.

"We're going through these meetings with the assumption that some form of legalization is going to happen," said Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson. "The question is, how do we address it?"

Other states that legalized cannabis through voter referenda were forced to "build the plane while flying it," said Jaye Pershing Johnson, the governor's legal counsel. "We have the opportunity to build the plane and avoid the unintended consequences that other states have encountered."

The governor created the commission via executive order in August after he vetoed a bill that would have created a legislative commission and established a pathway to legalization. Scott's panel is charged with investigating three primary areas: taxation and regulation, education and prevention, and highway safety.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Walters: Scott Declares 'Milestone' Reached in Opioid Fight

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 10:47 PM

Gov. Phil Scott at a press conference Thursday at Burlington's Howard Center. From left to right: Attorney General T.J. Donovan, University of Vermont Medical Center president Eileen Whalen, Scott, Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Howard Center CEO Bob Bick. - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott at a press conference Thursday at Burlington's Howard Center. From left to right: Attorney General T.J. Donovan, University of Vermont Medical Center president Eileen Whalen, Scott, Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Howard Center CEO Bob Bick.
In a bipartisan lovefest with the occasional cautionary sprinkle, Gov. Phil Scott announced Thursday that “Vermont now can quickly meet the demand for [opioid] treatment in all 14 counties.”

Scott appeared with a brace of administration officials, Democratic officeholders and health care providers at Burlington's Howard Center to declare that, in Chittenden County, there is no longer a waiting list for addiction treatment services. Elsewhere in the state, he said, waits had been reduced.

The Republican governor began the press conference with a shoutout to his predecessor, Democrat Peter Shumlin, for prioritizing the opioid crisis, and made it clear that his own team had continued “the strong work of the previous administration in this area.”

He went on to credit Burlington’s Democratic mayor, Miro Weinberger, Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and the predominantly Democratic state legislature. And while plenty of Dem officeholders were on hand, Scott was the only Republican elected official in the room.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Scott Plans Pot Commission to Examine Vermont Legalization

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:13 PM

  • Luke Eastman
Gov. Phil Scott, who vetoed a marijuana legalization bill earlier this year, said on Monday that he will announce “in the next few days” the creation of a commission tasked with examining several issues surrounding legalization.

Scott, speaking to reporters after an unrelated event in Shelburne, declined to say who would lead or serve on the commission. Vermont legislators had hoped to create a panel that would make recommendations for how the state might tax and regulate marijuana. Scott said his focus, and the makeup of his panel, will be different.

The commission’s priority will be to look at highway safety, he said. Chief among his legalization concerns is that no convenient roadside test exists to measure a driver’s impairment from marijuana.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Rutland Doctor Charged With Prescription Fraud

Posted By on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 6:16 PM

  • Vermont State Police
  • Mark Logan
A Rutland physician was arrested Monday and charged with diverting prescription drugs in a years-long scheme, Vermont State Police said.

Mark Logan, who owned Green Mountain Family Medicine, faces 35 counts of prescription fraud and six counts of Medicaid fraud, Vermont State Police said. Logan, 66, is scheduled to appear in Rutland Superior Court on July 10.

Logan was the target of an investigation launched in January 2016 involving state police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Vermont Board of Medical Practice.

State police said the allegations date to 2010 or earlier. Logan allegedly manipulated employee medical records and patient profiles to order prescription drugs for his or a family member's use.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Work Begins on Crafting New Vermont Marijuana Bill

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 4:32 PM

Days after Gov. Phil Scott vetoed marijuana legalization legislation, the work of making adjustments to the bill is already under way.

Key legislators and marijuana legalization advocates met Thursday and Friday with Scott's staff to discuss changes he asked for when he vetoed the measure on Wednesday.

As now written, the bill would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older. It would also allow adults to grow at home two mature plants. The legislation, which would go into effect July 2018, would not legalize marijuana sales.

In announcing the veto, Scott said he's seeking a few revisions, like beefing up penalties for using marijuana around children and extending the deadline for a commission to study full pot legalization in Vermont. Those changes could be made in time for the legislature's planned June 21 veto session.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scott Vetoes Marijuana Legalization in Vermont

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 12:04 PM

  • Luke Eastman
Updated at 4:17 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday vetoed pending legislation that would legalize marijuana in Vermont. But he promised to work with lawmakers to fashion a new bill that might win his support next month.

“I am not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana,” Scott said at a highly anticipated press conference in his Montpelier office. “However … we must get this right.”

The legislation would have allowed adults over age 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as two mature plants per household, starting in July 2018. It also would have created a commission to report back by November with a plan to tax and regulate marijuana sales, as other states have done.

The Republican governor said Wednesday that he would provide legislators with “explicit” recommendations to craft a bill that might meet his approval. He suggested that lawmakers tackle them when they reconvene July 21 for an expected two-day veto session.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Vermont's 'Biggest' Pill Dealer Gets Nine-Year Prison Sentence

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 6:48 PM

  • David Junkin
A New York City drug dealer who brought thousands of prescription opioid pills into Vermont was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison.

Michael Foreste, who was profiled by Seven Days in April for his participation in an unusual prison treatment program, told U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III that his time spent in prison and the counseling he has received in recent months has changed his outlook.

"I now know what these pills do to the community," Foreste said. "I never wish to cause this kind of harm again."

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vermont Legislature Votes to Legalize Marijuana, Sends Bill to Governor

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland) speaks in support of a marijuana legalization bill Wednesday on the House floor. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland) speaks in support of a marijuana legalization bill Wednesday on the House floor.
Updated at 6:35 p.m.

The Vermont House on Wednesday voted to legalize marijuana possession, a miraculous revival for legislation that appeared just days before to be going nowhere fast.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” declared Matt Simon, New England political director for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. “There is no rational reason to continue punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

The 79-66 vote means the bill, already approved by the Senate, goes next to Gov. Phil Scott. Asked Wednesday what he would do — sign, veto or let the legislation become law without his signature — the governor declined to say.

“I don’t believe this is a priority for Vermont,” the first-term Republican governor said, reiterating his concern that there is no roadside test to detect drivers impaired by marijuana. The bill, S.22, would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and home growing of up to two mature and four immature plants for adults age 21 and over. It would go into effect July 2018.

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