Last Tuesday the Vermont House of Representatives planned to vote on a bill to allow possession and home grows for marijuana. However, when it came to a floor vote, the pot proponents knew there were not enough votes to pass the bill.
Even though Vermont’s former governor supported legalization, a legalization bill failed miserably in the Vermont House last year. The new bill is less expansive than last year’s bill, but legalization appears to be headed for failure this year.
Vermont’s new governor, Phil Scott, has made it clear that the legislature needs to find safeguards against drugged driving. There is no simple test to measure stoned driving, as there is for drunk driving. Individuals have a legal right to refuse a blood test, and police must get a court order to administer the tests. THC levels in the blood may go down during the waiting period.
In October, five teens were killed by a wrong-way driver who had high levels of THC in his blood. The 36-year-old driver allegedly used marijuana to calm himself, a sign of dependence and addiction.
A 17-year-old stoned driver hit and killed Richard Tom, an experienced cyclist with VBT Vermont Biking and Walking Vacations, in April, 2015. That teen driver, who also died, had 36 nanograms of THC in his blood, way above Colorado’s limit of 5 nanograms. (Many people think Colorado’s limit is insufficient.)
Vermont’s Teen Use of Pot Must be Addressed
To many legislators, teen pot use is also a problem making it difficult to legalize. The current bill has been sent to the Human Services Committee for additional work aimed to prevent youth marijuana use. Youth marijuana usage often leads to other opiate pill and heroin abuse. Last year Vermont had 105 opiate abuse deaths, up from 75 in 2015.
In 2014, one third of Vermont’s traffic fatalities occurred because of drugged drivers, with marijuana frequently mentioned in crash reports. Vermont decriminalized pot in 2013.
Vermont has less than 625,000 residents, but a number of deaths in recent years were indirectly linked to marijuana use. Jody Herring, who allegedly shot and killed four people in 2015, had mental health issues. She had initially lost custody of her daughter for lying about her marijuana use. It was a shocking crime in the small, rural state.