Seven candidates for governor in Vermont clashed over a proposal to decriminalize drugs at a recent forum sponsored by Friends of Recovery Vermont, the Rutland Herald reported June 24.
Democrat Peter Shumlin, currently president pro tem of the state Senate, has publicly endorsed decriminalization of marijuana, setting the stage for a discussion on the proposal. Five Democrats and two independent candidates attended the forum, but not Republican Brian Dubie, who is now the lieutenant governor.
Former state senator Matt Dunne, a Democrat, said he supports medical use of marijuana but not decriminalization of the drug. “We have not demonstrated as a society and a state to be able to handle addiction better connected with legal drugs,” Dunne said. “And before opening up a whole new universe to a new drug that does cause a problem, we should make sure that we are addressing the drugs that are legal now.”
Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz said she would consider decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, while state Sen. Doug Racine said, “The thing that scares me about the discussion of marijuana isn’t the recreational use by adults. What scares me is I hear stories of 14- and 15-year-olds who are getting access to highly potent marijuana and are smoking it on their way to school.”
Independent Em Peyton endorsed marijuana legalization, while fellow independent Dennis Steele said the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18. Shumlin said that the state would lose too much federal highway money if the drinking age was lowered.