Throughout this election season, GOP challenger Randy Brock criticized Gov. Shumlin for supporting a reform of Vermont’s outdated marijuana laws. Vermonters listened but weren’t impressed with Brock’s “reefer madness” propaganda, choosing instead to re-elect the popular governor.
Did Brock really believe opposing a sensible marijuana reform would help him win votes? If so, he should have looked at a few polls before forming his campaign strategy.
A poll conducted in February by Public Policy Polling found that only 15 percent of Vermont voters believe the federal government’s claim that alcohol is safer than marijuana. By contrast, 75 percent believe marijuana is as safe or safer than alcohol, and voters support reducing possession penalties by a more than two-to-one margin.
Considering that it is widely known by both many police officers and the public that marijuana does not cause the harm that alcohol does, there would be no rationale to continue spending limited law enforcement resources on small-time marijuana offenses. As a former member of the House Corrections Committee, I found that the money being spent on marijuana prosecutions could be better used for protecting our communities from dangerous crime.
Gov. Shumlin’s victory shows Vermont is ready to decriminalize marijuana. He should be commended for supporting the responsible decriminalization of marijuana, and the House and Senate should work with the governor to pass this important legislation in 2013.
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