Marijuana

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Gov. Peter Shumlin wants House Speaker Shap Smith to bring a bill legalizing marijuana to the House floor for a vote, but Smith says he's not going to do this at this time because there's not nearly enough support in the House to pass the legislation.

Steven Senne / Associated Press

With the House and Senate deadlocked on a bill legalizing marijuana, a possible compromise is to present this issue to voters in a nonbinding referendum in November.

While Vermont's political system calls on voters to approve proposed Constitutional amendments using a statewide referendum, the process doesn't allow for the consideration of other issues using this approach.

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After a push from Governor Shumlin and a bill passed by the Senate, many people saw legal marijuana on its way in Vermont. Now, after many twists and turns, it's unclear what form any final bill on the issue might take. We’re coming back to the legalization debate and asking people on both sides about where the legislative process has taken us.

Democratic lawmakers say they have a plan to avoid a government shutdown, in the event they can't reach a deal with Gov. Phil Scott over property taxes. But Scott says he needs to see more details.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The House has given its final approval to legislation that allows law enforcement officials to use a saliva test to determine if a driver is impaired with a combination of alcohol and marijuana.

Charlotte Albright / VPR file

We tackle two big stories in Vermont news in today's program.

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Law enforcement officials are urging lawmakers to establish a roadside system to determine if a driver is operating a car under the influence of drugs. The system uses a saliva test that can measure levels of marijuana and seven other commonly used drugs. But the potential testing raises civil liberties concerns.

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The House Judiciary Committee scaled back a marijuana bill even further Friday in order to squeak it through the committee and keep the bill alive, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Senate over legalization.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in Vermont underwent a sudden and drastic overhaul on Wednesday evening, and the latest version scraps legalization in favor of expanding existing decriminalization laws.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As House lawmakers ponder whether or not to legalize marijuana, two key questions have risen to the fore: Will legal pot make Vermont’s highways more dangerous? And will more young residents use cannabis if it’s sold legally in stores?

The answers all depend on who you ask.

Last week, the Winooski police shut down a clandestine drug lab in the heart of the city. But it wasn't a meth lab. The people in the apartment were allegedly making butane hash oil.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

As lawmakers in Montpelier debate legalizing marijuana, some local communities are taking action to regulate businesses that cater to users of the drug. In Weathersfield, a new bylaw regulating what it calls “drug and tobacco paraphernalia establishments” went into effect on Wednesday.

Patti Daniels / VPR

Winooski Police say the so-called “clandestine lab” authorities discovered Tuesday in the city’s downtown was being used to make a marijuana derivative called Butane Hash Oil, or BHO.

Angela Evancie / VPR/file

House Speaker Shap Smith says the House will spend the second half of the session closely reviewing a Senate bill that legalizes marijuana. Smith says supporters of the bill have a lot of work to do and doesn't think the proposal has the votes needed to pass at this time.

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Late Wednesday afternoon, the state Senate voted to legalize marijuana in Vermont with 16 senators in favor and 13 against.  That's not too far off from a public opinion about legalizing pot, according to a VPR Poll that show 55 percent of Vermonters supporting legalization.

An unknown outcome is a rare occurrence when debate begins in the Vermont Senate, but it remained unclear Wednesday afternoon as senators took to the floor to consider legalizing marijuana if they would, in fact, vote to advance it.

Angela Evancie / VPR

On Wednesday afternoon, the Vermont Senate became only the second legislative body in the nation to approve a bill that would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. But the narrow vote spotlights the controversial nature of the legislation. And proposal still faces staunch opposition in the House.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

This week the Vermont Senate is expected to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. And according to a new VPR Poll, a majority of Vermonters favor the idea.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

The VPR Poll put some of the biggest questions facing Vermont to ... Vermonters. Novel, huh? They told us a lot.

From left to right: Toby Talbot|AP; Taylor Dobbs|VPR; Bob Kinzel|VPR; Toby Talbot|AP

It's likely that the legalization of marijuana could emerge as a key issue in this year's gubernatorial race. That's because both Democratic candidates support a bill making its way through the Senate and both Republicans are against it.

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Gov. Peter Shumlin says he'd like to see lawmakers legalize marijuana during the current legislative session. But it now appears unlikely that the proposal will allow individual Vermonters to grow their own marijuana.

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