The Cannabis Catch-Up: Majority of Vermonters Want Retail Weed, Poll Shows | Cannabis Catch-Up | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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The Cannabis Catch-Up: Majority of Vermonters Want Retail Weed, Poll Shows


Published July 27, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Luke Eastman
We’ve heard for months from Vermonters who think that the state should legalize a taxed-and-regulated market for recreational cannabis.

A law in effect since July 1 allows for possession of up to an ounce of dried cannabis and the growing of two mature and four immature plants. Those who want a more structured system say the law is too vague and creates more confusion and unnecessary headaches than a regulated market would. Not to mention the tax dollars that would roll into state coffers.

Evidence continues to suggest that a majority of Vermonters support such a market. For instance, nearly 90 percent of respondents to Seven Days’ admittedly unscientific Weeders Survey think that Act 86 is "a step in the right direction but kind of half-assed without commercial legalization." Meanwhile, a much more scientific poll, the results of which Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS released this week, found that 56 percent of Vermonters believe the state should allow the retail sale of cannabis.

The public media poll surveyed 603 Vermonters on landlines and cellphones between July 6 and July 16. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. VPR and Vermont PBS hired Castleton University professor Rich Clark to craft the questions and analyze the data; New Jersey-based Braun Research made the calls.

Another of the poll’s questions found that more than one in four Vermonters are either very likely or somewhat likely to use cannabis in the next year, according to VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld. Of those, "23 percent say their inclination to partake is directly related to the fact that cannabis is now legal in Vermont," Hirschfeld reported.

It’s a population subset that Heady Vermont confounder Eli Harrington dubbed the “canna-curious.”

“I think that’s really the most interesting demographic,” Harrington told Hirschfeld. “And you know, that’s a lot of people who are your doctor, your lawyer, your teacher.”

Here is some other cannabis news we followed this week:

July 23: Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued guidance that says “gifting” free cannabis in exchange for an overpriced item or service is actually illegal under Act 86. [Sasha Goldstein, Seven Days]

July 24: Sure, the gifting thing was short-lived — not even a month. But other cannapreneurs say, no problem. They’re onto other big ideas. [Elizabeth Hewitt,]

July 24: Prosecutors in New Jersey will adjourn all cannabis-related cases in municipal courts until after September 4, which is about the same time that the New Jersey Senate will likely consider a bill legalizing recreational cannabis. A big deal in a state that has the second-highest marijuana arrest rate in the country. [Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ Advance Media]

July 25: Shocking stat: More than nine out of 10 people arrested for marijuana possession in the first six months of the year in New York City were people of color. The Big Apple is on pace for about 12,000 cannabis possession arrests in 2018. [Graham Rayman, New York Daily News]

July 25: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health system has shunned medical marijuana, even though a department survey found that approximately one million veterans use it anyway. That means vets are left without a place to go for advice or guidance on using the drug. A bill currently before Congress would order the department to study cannabis’ potential benefits for PTSD and chronic pain. [Dave Philipps, New York Times]

July 26: A Colorado widow is fighting an insurance company that cut her late husband’s worker’s compensation payments in half after tests showed he had marijuana in his system when he died on the job. [Barry Petersen, CBS News]

July 26: Big crowds are expected at Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries next week as dried cannabis flower goes on sale for the first time there. The state’s medical marijuana program started in mid-February. [Sam Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer]

July 26: A national business called 420 Suites that operates cannabis-themed vacation rentals will begin operating 10 locations in Boston. Rentals range from $230 to $399 per night. [Mike Plaisance, MassLive]

July 26: Some cannapreneurs who get priority review of their Massachusetts applications for licenses to operate a weed biz in the state say the regulatory process is tripping them up and actually hinders the very people it is supposed to help. [WBUR, Zeninjor Enwemeka]

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