Police testify against medicinal marijuana bill

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(Host) The Vermont Police Association is urging lawmakers not to pass a medical marijuana bill, but members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are poised to give their approval to the legislation.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The proposed law would allow individuals with chronic illnesses to use marijuana for pain relief if their doctor is unable to find any other effective remedy. The patients would have to register with the state Health Department and they would be issued an identification card that could be shown to law enforcement officials.

Captain Scott Tucker of the Rutland Police Department, told lawmakers that the Vermont Police Association strongly opposes the legislation:

(Tucker) “Our position is that it’s against federal law and we don’t think it really serves the people of the state of Vermont or law enforcement of the state of Vermont, drafting a bill that clearly is going to be in violation of federal law.”

(Kinzel) Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Sears acknowledges the problem raised by the police, but Sears says the state has a right to adopt its own laws:

(Sears) “You almost have to put into the language ‘notwithstanding federal law to the contrary.’ Vermonters find it necessary to enact legislation to protect citizens who are suffering from serious debilitating diseases.”

(Kinzel) Sears says he’ll be surprised if federal officials will arrest Vermonters who are authorized to use medical marijuana:

(Sears) “If the federal government decides to step into a state like Vermont or Colorado, should we pass this legislation, then I think they have to justify the interest with all the other things going on in this country today – to justify the interest in that particular type of prosecution.”

(Kinzel) Sears says it’s likely that his committee will vote the bill out next week.

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

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