By Erin Mansfield, VTDigger.org
Frustrated by stalled efforts to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol, two Vermont lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday, April 15, that would ban alcohol and treat it like marijuana.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, called it a symbolic step to “recognize recent scientific studies that demonstrate that alcohol use is significantly more dangerous than marijuana.”
Under the proposed law, possession of large quantities of alcohol, plus cultivation, distribution or sale of alcohol, would carry criminal penalties with up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Possession of small amounts of alcohol would carry a civil penalty and $500 fine, provided the person with the alcohol is at least 21 years old. Alcohol used as medicine would remain legal.
“This is not something either of us support,” Pearson said in a news conference with co-sponsor Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, D- Burlington, who sits on the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development “We offer these ideas to stimulate a much-needed discussion to treat marijuana like alcohol.”
Pearson said that even though marijuana is thought of as something you do in college, alcohol has more ties to campus rape, unprotected sex and intoxicated young people who can’t remember whether they consented to sex.
O’Sullivan said there is no economic reason to postpone marijuana legalization. “If you had 80,000 Vermonters using a product that, according to the Rand study, is over a $200 million annual part of an economy, why wouldn’t you want to look at marketing to that group?” she asked.
Before speaking Pearson got a high-five from Sen. David Zuckerman, D/P-Chittenden. The two introduced twin bills in the House and Senate to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. Neither were taken up.