Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy is urging a Vermont legislative panel not to move forward with a bill, H.170, that would legalize adult possession of limited amounts of marijuana.
Kennedy, son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, urged lawmakers in a letter dated March 15 to oppose the bill “so that Vermont children can grow up in healthy environments, and Vermont communities remain safe.”
“Like you, I do not want to see anyone jailed for personal amounts of marijuana or their opportunities in life ruined because of a past personal-use pot conviction,” Kennedy wrote. “However, the amount of marijuana allowed in this bill would not just be for personal use, but allow cultivation of massive amounts of marijuana far beyond the needs of one person.”
Kennedy, who has been a public advocate on issues related to mental health and substance abuse, is an honorary adviser to the national group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
He argues that the bill would have serious public health and safety consequences, including increasing drug-impaired driving. It would “invite organized criminal groups to take advantage of the law to ‘hide in plain sight,’” he wrote.
But advocates for the bill dismissed Kennedy’s critique.
Dave Silberman, an advocate in favor of marijuana legalization in Vermont, responded that to him SAM is an “organization without credibility.”
“They claim to be for something other than prohibition, and yet every single proposal to do anything other than prohibition, whether it be decriminalization, whether it be medical marijuana, whether it be personal home grow, they oppose and oppose vociferously,” Silberman said.