- Luke Eastman
- Drugged driver testing is again at the center of the cannabis debate
Gov. Phil Scott made it clear this week that he’s open to having a taxed and regulated cannabis market, as long as three conditions are met. He wants cities and towns to have the ability to opt out of the market; to implement a roadside saliva test that law enforcement can use on suspected drugged drivers; and to ensure there are educational and prevention programs for young people, according to WCAX-TV.
"I've said I'm not philosophically opposed to this, but I want certain conditions, and I think we have a responsibility to make sure we do this right, and I think these are provisions that would help us get there," Scott said at his weekly press conference Thursday.
A full legalization bill quickly passed the Senate early in the session and is currently before the House Government Operations Committee, where it’s languished for more than a month. Meanwhile, the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 18.
"We have a window, but it's a tight one," Rep. Sam Young (D-Glover), an advocate of tax-and-regulate, told our John Walters this week.
Saliva testing is not currently allowed in Vermont, though law enforcement officers can currently obtain a blood sample from a driver — as long as they first obtain a search warrant. Anderson told the committee Thursday that requiring a search warrant for a saliva test would slow down the process enough to lessen the impact it would have on ferreting out drugged drivers, VTDigger.org reported.
Critics, though, say the test doesn't necessarily indicate a driver is stoned because it simply detects the presence, not amount, of THC in someone's system.
A similar provision died in committee last year. But has the calculus now changed for lawmakers who now know very clearly what the governor wants before he’ll sign a bill into the law?
Anderson considers it a no-brainer.
“More evidence is better than less evidence,” he said Thursday, according to Digger.
Here are some other cannabis stories we've followed recently:
April 20: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that immigrants who work in the cannabis industry or use marijuana in states that consider it legal can be denied citizenship. [Colby Itkowitz, the Washington Post]
April 22: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has released proposed rules for regulating the state's burgeoning hemp industry. The state is soliciting public comment on the 12-page document before making the rules final. [Anne Wallace Allen, VTDigger.org]
April 25: Even though it's illegal federally, the cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the country. [Conor Dougherty, New York Times]
April 26: A study found that a legal cannabis market in New York State would create economic activity worth $4 billion to $8.4 billion and anywhere from 30,000 to 63,000 jobs. [David Colon, Leafly]
April 26: New Zealand is a super liberal and progressive country — but not, apparently, when it comes to recreational weed. [Colin Hogg, Cannabis Wire]
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