Vermont to open marijuana centers

Medical marijuana advocates cheered a new Vermont law that will make it easier for seriously ill residents to get the drug. The Green Mountain State will spend the next nine months to a year preparing to open marijuana dispensaries. The state will join Rhode Island and Maine in giving patients a way to more easily get pot.  “It’s a compassionate and smart thing to do,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.  Vermont already had a law authorizing patients with chronic pain or other conditions to use marijuana to ease their sickness. But if they struggled to grow it on their own, they couldn’t legally buy it. Now, the state has okayed the creation of up to four non-profit dispensaries, so users don’t need to get medicinal pot on the streets.

“It is difficult to go to the black market because not only is it illegal, it’s also unsafe and unregulated,” said 23-year-old Max Thayer, of East Wallingford, Vt.  Thayer uses marijuana to counter nausea from medications he needs following his kidney transplant. “There is a stigma attached to the use of cannibis in this state and a lot of states, and I think this (new law) goes a long way to alleviating that,” Thayer explained.   His mother even faced the threat of criminal prosecution: felony charges for admittedly growing marijuana for her child. “You know you’re breaking a law,” Sue Thayer said, “But your son is having so much benefit.”

Vermont’s public safety department will issue permits to people running the dispensaries, but the state itself won’t operate them. The plan has drawn concern from some members of law enforcement, including Vermont’s top federal prosecutor. Tris Coffin wrote the state’s public safety director this spring, saying “Individuals who elect to operate marijuana cultivation facilities will be doing so in violation of federal law.”  “The Department of Justice remains firmly committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act in all states,” Coffin’s letter continued. He added that ill Vermonters are unlikely to be the focus of investigations.  Shumlin counters that Vermont has been careful to ensure the marijuana will go only to the couple hundred Vermonters registered to buy it and not to unauthorized users.

via : NECN

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