Medical marijuana legislation may be revisited

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(Host) Progressive sponsors of a medical marijuana bill say a new federal court decision could pave the way for passage of their proposal at the Statehouse.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) For the past few years, Burlington Progressive lawmaker David Zuckerman has supported legislation allowing chronically ill people to use marijuana for pain relief under the supervision of a doctor.

Last year the Senate gave its approval to the bill but the legislation got stalled in the House. Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that state laws that permit the medicinal use of marijuana take precedent over federal laws that prohibit it as long as the marijuana is not sold or transported across state lines.

Zuckerman thinks the court decision could have a major impact on the debate of his bill when lawmakers return to the Statehouse next month.

(Zuckerman) “One of the hurdles was the law enforcement angle and federal laws. And now it appears as though we can really stick with what’s right for Vermont and that’s not a concern, what the federal law is around marijuana for medical purposes and that I think will help us as we enter the session in January.”

(Kinzel) Zuckerman and the three other members of the Progressive caucus also want the Legislature to strongly consider a plan to have the state of Vermont purchase a number of hydro dams on the Connecticut River.

(Zuckerman) “I think this is really important for a lot of reasons – security of our power supply, long term stability in our rate structure. And I think the dams along the Connecticut River are something that we really need to look at and be creative and figure out a way for the state to be involved with the purchase of those dams.”

(Kinzel) The Progressives also identified job creation with a livable wage and universal access to health care as top priorities for the session.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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