Vermont Lawmakers Pass Medical Marijuana

May 18, 2004

, WCAX TV - Burlington, VT

'This is an important measure,' says Sen. Janet Munt, D-Chittenden County.

Medical Marijuana was a bill that would not die. With time ticking down in the session, senators continued a push to keep it alive.

'This is what the state of Vermont should do.'

Senators have already passed a version of the bill that would let any person with a chronic illness smoke pot to relieve pain.

Facing political pressure, the Republican controlled house tightened the bill to cover only people with Aids, HIV, Cancer and MS. They also limited how much pot someone can possess.

Facing a time crunch, many Senators decided to support the tighter bill sent back to them, saying it is better than nothing.

'If this bill passes, it does not legalize marijuana,' says Sen. John Bloomer, R-Rutland County.

The bill exempts sick people who smoke pot from prosecution at a state level.

Some were not comfortable with the bill at all saying it sends the wrong message to kids, but a move to table it failed.

'I know this is a lost cause, but I have to say from my heart that this is wrong,' says Sen. Julius Canns, R-Caledonia County.

After passionate debate the bill passed 20 to 7. It now heads to the governor's desk.

Governor Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, is strongly opposed to medical marijuana.

'I've said all along how I feel about this,' says Douglas.

He has decided to let the bill become law without his signature. This is the first bill to reach his desk that puts him in this kind of difficult political position.

'I think the best course of action is to respect the will of the representatives and the majority of the people of the state and allow it to become law without my signature,' says Douglas.

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