Vermont Joins List of States Licensing Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

June 02, 2011 | Kris Hermes


Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill today that would license multiple medical cannabis distribution facilities in Vermont. Patients and advocates wildly applauded the governor’s action for two main reasons:

  1. It recognizes the need for patients to have health care options, including the ability to safely and legally obtain their medication; and

  2. It defies recent attempts by the federal government to harass and intimidate public officials to prevent them from properly addressing patients’ needs.

Senate Bill 17 will authorizes the establishment of four licensed dispensaries in order to bring safe and legal access to medical marijuana for the state’s patient population. Last month, the Vermont House voted 99-44 to pass S. 17, despite a letter from U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin threatening possible legal action against the state. In Coffin’s letter, he warned what might happen if S. 17 were to pass:
[T]he [DOJ] will carefully consider legal remedies against those who facilitate or operate marijuana dispensaries or marijuana distribution or production as contemplated by S. 17, should that measure become law.

We need more elected officials like those in Vermont, who won’t buckle to federal bullying and who are willing to stand up for the health and welfare of patients. Notably, Delaware took similarly decisive action last month, when it passed the 16th state medical marijuana law, which includes provisions for production and distribution.

However, this type of leadership is far too rare today. We can’t give elected officials any reason to controvert science and the will of the people. We must hold them accountable at the same time as commending Shumlin and others who are willing to take a stand for patients.
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