North Country News
6:30 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Law Enforcement to Lobby Against Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Marijuana plants
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Law enforcement officers opposed to a proposal that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana will be at the Vermont statehouse Thursday asking legislators to reject the measure.



Vermont lawmakers are considering legislation that would make possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana and up to seven plants a civil offense with a fine up to 100 dollars.
The state attorney general and state public service commissioner support the bill. But law enforcement groups including the Vermont Police Association and Police Chiefs Association oppose the decriminalization bill.

Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel is helping to coordinate an effort to bring law enforcement officers to the statehouse on Thursday to lobby legislators to vote against the measure.
 
Chief Merkel cites medical testimony on the dangers of marijuana as one of his concerns.

Marijuana Policy Project Legislative Analyst Matt Simon believes most opponents are merely reacting to the word decriminalization.

Matt Simon notes that a number of states have decriminalized pot without problems.

Simon is optimistic that the bill will pass, and it appears that opponents have an uphill battle.
Vermont Speaker of the House Democrat Shap Smith believes the bill will pass the House and move to the Senate.

Chief George Merkel remains concerned that the bill will confuse the average person and questions supporters contentions.

Members of law enforcement opposed to House Bill 200 to decriminalize marijuana will be at the statehouse to talk with legislators from 8 until 1 on Thursday.

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