Newsbrief: Prospects Dimming For Vermont Medical Marijuana Bill 5/3/02

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A whittled-down medical marijuana bill passed the Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee unanimously on April 25, but a busy legislative calendar, committee chairs with questions, and a Democratic governor who opposes the bill are combining to make final passage this year highly unlikely. The bill has passed the Vermont House on an 82-59 vote, but still needs to be endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington), has said he is sympathetic but swamped with other legislative work, and that he has some questions.

"We're going to do our best to take a look at the bill, but we are extremely limited on time to look at any bills," said Sears. "I'm empathetic to the needs of people who are suffering," Sears told the Times Argus on April 26. "And I hope that prosecutors would be sympathetic to that as well." But Sears expressed concerns about sending messages to young people. "I don't want to send the message to them that we're making one more drug legal," he said. Sounding like the doctor consoling the family of a patient about to die, he consoled medical marijuana advocates in advance. Even if the bill didn't pass this year, he said, its progress would help when it was introduced again.

Even if the bill were to make it out of committee and past a floor vote in the Senate, Gov. Howard Dean remains a likely obstacle. Although he has been quiet on a veto for fear of offending key constituencies, he is exploring a run for the presidency and is unlikely to change his longstanding opposition to medical marijuana if forced to decide.

No Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on medical marijuana were scheduled this week.

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Issue #235, 5/3/02 Editorial: Return of the Drug Czars | Former British Drug Policy Head Says Legalize it All | Thai Police Death Squads Accused of Killing Drug Dealers | South Dakota Amendment Would Give Criminal Defendants Right to Argue Merits, Applicability and Validity of Laws | Summer Concert Bust Season Gets Early Start in Alabama -- Rockers Can Take Steps to Protect Themselves, Say Advocates | It's National Drug Court Month -- Do You Know What You're Getting for Your Money? The Government Doesn't, Says GAO | Newsbrief: Washington Says Colombian Military Meets Human Rights Conditions, Frees More Money | Newsbrief: Japan to Outlaw Magic Mushrooms, Loophole Slams Shut | Newsbrief: China Faces Plague of Yuppie Dopers as Disposable Income in Cities Rises | Newsbrief: Prospects Dimming For Vermont Medical Marijuana Bill | Newsbrief: Italian Legislative Body Asks for Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: BC Marijuana Party Head to Run for Vancouver Mayor | Newsbrief: Eleven House Pages Fired for Marijuana Use -- NORML Offers Them Jobs | Newsbrief: Connecticut Carpenters Strike Over Wages, Drug Testing | Web Scan: De Greiff, Blumenson, Weitzel, GAO, Canada | Errata: Drug War Race | The Reformer's Calendar

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