Two Vermont legislators have proposed a bill that will effectively bring back 1920’s style prohibition laws in their state, aiming to use it as an ultimatum for weed to be legalized. There’s been much speculation that Vermont may be the first state in the union to legalize marijuana for public, recreational use, but state Representatives Jean O’Sullivan and Christopher Pearson feel the legislation that has been tabled to do so is not being addressed in a timely fashion.
From The Huffington Post:
If passed, House Bill 502 would outlaw consumption of alcohol, with penalties mirroring those currently in place for marijuana possession. Those found with small amounts of alcohol would be subject to fines of up to $500, and anyone involved in the sale and distribution stream could face up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in penalties.
Incredibly harsh. But then again, O’Sullivan and Pearson proposed the legislation to make a point. Did they think it would ever pass? No way. But has it got a lot of heads to turn? Oh yes.
In fact, O’Sullivan has openly said she doesn’t even support Bill 502, but she thinks it illustrates pretty well how hypocritical some other lawmakers have been in giving their support for weed to finally be legalized.
O’Sullivan herself acknowledges that even she doesn’t support the substance of the bill. Rather, “the object was to basically embarrass leadership to say that we have [marijuana legalization bills] in front of us, and they’re going absolutely nowhere.”
The lawmakers hope to give momentum to legalization in Vermont by raising awareness about the broad scientific consensus that marijuana is the least dangerous recreational drug on the market. A study published in February found that pot had the lowest risk of mortality when compared with nine other commonly used drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
“We’re certainly not going to ban alcohol, but when you say you’ll let a drug like that be legalized and then you have a drug like marijuana that’s far safer that’s still banned, it’s completely ironic,” O’Sullivan said.
The Representative makes a great point. It’s well-documented that there has never been a single death linked to a marijuana overdose. By contrast, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more some 88,000 Americans are killed each year due to excessive alcohol consumption. That translates to 2.5 million years of life lost, which is both alarming and tragic, and all the more reason to get behind the legalization of weed, for which therapeutic effects have been recorded for centuries.
Pearson and O’Sullivan are also responsible for introducing and sponsoring Bill H.277, which seeks to legalize the sale and regulation of marijuana throughout Vermont. State revenue estimates range between $20 million and $70 million annually should the bill pass and spurn the development of a regulated marijuana industry. That sounds awful promising considering Vermont is currently staring down a $113 million budget deficit.