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Debate underway over legalized marijuana in Vermont

File photo: marijuana plants

There's a push underway in Vermont to legalize recreational marijuana. Lawmakers there are looking at how the state would regulate it and tax it. That legislation has already passed through a number of different Vermont State Senate Committees as advocates push it toward a vote. But some law enforcement officials say, it's not a good idea.

This month, the Senate's version of this legislation moved through the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees. It was scheduled to be in the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

"Vermont has a prohibition on marijuana that has not been a successful policy," said Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a group pushing for this legislation.

Simon told CBS6 News that legalization would be good for Vermont's economy.

"What regulating marijuana would do is take that lucrative market away from the drug dealers and put it in a regulated environment," said Simon.

Right now, he said that lawmakers are considering a 25% retail tax to bring money into the government. He also said he that he thinks regulating marijuana would help law enforcement tackle the heroin epidemic better, by allowing them to focus on that, not marijuana.

"This State is not ready for the legalization of marijuana," said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, who is also the head of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police.

Chief Doucette said that he traveled to Colorado last year, with other state officials, to look at how marijuana legalization was working. He came back, convinced that Vermont shouldn't follow suit, especially as police try to root out heroin.

"To now legalize another mind altering substance, and task us with monitoring that, monitoring the sales, the cultivation and all the things that go along with it, you're really tasking the police department in Bennington that's already overburdened with issues we're seeing," said Chief Doucette.

He said he is concerned about diversion, public safety, public health and people flocking to Vermont. He is urging lawmakers to hold off.There's a push underway in Vermont to legalize recreational marijuana. Lawmakers there are looking at how the state would regulate it and tax it. That legislation has already passed through a number of different Vermont State Senate Committees as advocates push it toward a vote. But some law enforcement officials say, it's not a good idea.

This month, the Senate's version of this legislation moved through the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees. It was scheduled to be in the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

"Vermont has a prohibition on marijuana that has not been a successful policy," said Matt Simon, New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a group pushing for this legislation.

Simon told CBS6 News that legalization would be good for Vermont's economy.

"What regulating marijuana would do is take that lucrative market away from the drug dealers and put it in a regulated environment," said Simon.

Right now, he said that lawmakers are considering a 25% retail tax to bring money into the government. He also said he that he thinks regulating marijuana would help law enforcement tackle the heroin epidemic better, by allowing them to focus on that, not marijuana.

"This State is not ready for the legalization of marijuana," said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, who is also the head of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police.

Chief Doucette said that he traveled to Colorado last year, with other state officials, to look at how marijuana legalization was working. He came back, convinced that Vermont shouldn't follow suit, especially as police try to root out heroin.

"To now legalize another mind altering substance, and task us with monitoring that, monitoring the sales, the cultivation and all the things that go along with it, you're really tasking the police department in Bennington that's already overburdened with issues we're seeing," said Chief Doucette.

He said he is concerned about diversion, public safety, public health and people flocking to Vermont. He is urging lawmakers to hold off.

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