Chiefs of police oppose marijuana legalization, expansion of dispensaries

The state should not legalize marijuana or increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, a group representing local police chiefs said.

The Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement in March saying it opposes expanding the availability of marijuana in Vermont.

Police believe their concerns about health risks, highway safety and employment issues related to marijuana have been ignored by the governor and lawmakers.

The statement came in response to a letter Gov. Peter Shumlin sent to association president Chief Douglas Johnston saying he was “open to further discussion” about whether it makes sense to legalize marijuana in Vermont. Johnston is Springfield’s police chief.

“This an area where I am happy to continue to let other governors lead, but I am open to the conversation,” Shumlin wrote, referring to Colorado and Washington, which have legalized marijuana.

“Like you, I empathize with those who endure chronic pain, and if symptom relief can be found by the use of marijuana as a therapeutic tool, it is important that all Vermonters with such a need have access to a dispensary,” Shumlin wrote in the March 13 letter.

The Marijuana Policy Project was the top contributor to Shumlin’s election campaign in 2011-2012, according to VTDigger campaign finance data.

The Vermont Legislature in 2004 legalized marijuana as a medical treatment. In 2011, it allowed the creation of dispensaries. There are four dispensaries in the state.

This year the Legislature is considering a bill to open two more and expand business at the existing facilities, which are in Burlington, Montpelier, Brattleboro and Brandon.

Lawmakers last year also decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, making it instead a civil violation.

The governor’s press secretary March 14 issued a response to the police association’s statement about dispensaries and legalization.

“The governor is confident that medical marijuana dispensaries are carefully regulated by public safety, and provide relief to those with debilitating illnesses. As you know, neither Gov. Shumlin nor legislative leaders believe that Vermont should consider legalization of marijuana at this time, preferring to wait to see how that plays out in Colorado and Washington,” Susan Allen wrote.

House Speaker Shap Smith last week quashed an amendment that asked for a study of potential tax revenue to be gained by legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Smith said he also opposes the legalization of marijuana.

Laura Krantz

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  • Brian Kelly

    Wow! Really? The Chief of Police opposes legalizing marijuana?

    What a SHOCKER!

    Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes and fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, – Your Days Are Numbered. Find new careers before you don’t have one.

  • CJ Denton

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.”
    -Upton Sinclair

  • Fred Woogmaster

    I wonder how many of the members disagree with the position of the organization – and were ‘outvoiced’?

    We have a few pretty enlightened police chiefs – or so it seems to me. How much of this comes from a political anti-Shumlin place?

    Legalization with control and taxation is the only rational way to move forward.

    Upton Sinclair “got it”. Perhaps the Chiefs will too.

  • Carl Marcinkowski

    I a confident that the end of cannabis prohibition in Washington and Colorado will be found in a positive light. Of course there will always be opponents that will comment their opinions to the contrary. I look forward to Vermont going the same route with control and taxation and cannabis/hemp agriculture and product development. The sooner the better.

  • James Leopold

    When you can go into just about any secondary school in Vermont (and most other states) and buy marijuana, it’s time to re-evaluate the legal status of pot, because the prohibition has failed in a fundamental way.

    The legal system and the people who run it (cops, attorney’s, and the judicial branch of government) all benefit financially from marijuana prohibition, and given that, they little incentive to fix it.

    The bottom line is that just about anyone can buy pot today…the legal system has failed.

    Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it, and dedicate the tax revenue to drug education and rehabilitation.

    Hopefully when marijuana is legalized, we will finally get it out of schools and the hands of our kids.

  • Richard P Steeb

    Sorry about your cognitive dissonance, Chiefs; the prohibition of Cannabis is an atrocity you have been perpetrating, and it shall NOT stand. Get USED to it!

  • Jodi Harrington

    The Police Chiefs doth protest too much. Taking pot out of the black market would take such a huge bite out of crime that many police empires would crumble. 38% of our Winooski municipal taxes (the highest rate in Chittenden County) are dedicated to our ridiculously ineffective police who depend on petty criminals to justify their existence.

  • Fred Woogmaster

    Several chiefs of police, including those in Barre and Rutland, are in a second police career after retirement from the Vermont State Police. The following was taken from a list showing the annual retirement income of Judges and retired State Police:

    41. Timothy Bombardier, VSP captain, $66,927
    11. James Baker, VSP director (colonel), $84,006 – full list Burlington Free Press 4/2/11, “Top 100…”

    How many others have retired and subsequently taken Chief positions? Might this, in part, explain the position of this organization?

  • Wayne Andrews

    Hey dudes that commented here I just took hits off my tenth joint today. As I drive down the road the fine spring day with the Mamas and the Papas CD in my player I can only think of the Garden of Eden and fig leaves. The sun warms my forehead and connects me one with the universe. Groovy…………… Opps bang I just ran into the local school bus and created a terrible scene. Its ok pot is legalized and I didn’t mean to do it.

  • Sam Caldwell

    That’s wicked Wayne! The scary thought that some pothead driver would smoke pot like ordinary cigarettes and, and… [some horrible incident with children] crash into a SCHOOL BUS!! Yeah – of course he’d be hallucinating, while listening to some draft-dodging, hippie music. You must be a paid writer, because that is like art imitating real life.

  • Wayne Andrews

    No I am not the person you claim only seen my friends grow up smoking pot and becoming blank minded fools. I dont want to be under the knife or my teeth pulled by my friends!!

  • Cindy Schmidt

    Have you heard of Irvin Rosenfeld? You’d find that he DID smoke 10 joints in one day and drive to work. A good starting point for an honest discussion on addiction, hospital admission concerns and drugged driving. Point your cursors on Irvin’s name.You’ll find that he has been smoking this much cannabis every day, for the last thirty years. (It is supplied by the Federal gov’t monthly through the FDA’s shelved Compassionate IND program.)

    His ample consumption is effective in his ongoing fight against multiple congenital cartilaginous extosis, a painful condition where his body grows multiple bone tumors. Researchers estimate that people with this condition have a 1 in 20 to 1 in 200 lifetime risk of developing cancerous extosis. From the beginning he has appeared on camera, glad to inhale his medicine in his office, boat or car for the media. Every Chief of Police should have scads of actual proof by now of the bedlam and carnage that impaired marihuana drivers would be inflicting on innocents everywhere, because of his long term, high usage of cannabis. Alas, Irvin has a stellar record as a successful businessman (over 115,000 Federally-issued joints later.)

    Under the weight of this evidence Wayne, I’d suggest you try to get in a better circle of friends.

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