Former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney will be breaking across the TV screens of Vermont this week in a new ad that backs legalization in the Green Mountain State. “We all know that prohibition was a disaster,” Cheney says in the 30-second spot scheduled to premiere Tuesday. “It forced alcohol into the underground market where it was controlled by criminals. And consumers did not know what they were getting.” Cheney continues:
It made us a nation of hypocrites and lawbreakers. Marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems. That’s why most Vermonters agree it’s time for a more sensible approach.
The ad, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project on behalf of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, is expected to bolster Gov. Pete Shumlin’s effort to pass a legalize-and-regulate bill through the Vermont Legislature this session. The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee currently is holding hearings around the state on S-241, a 41-page bill co-authored by Sens. Jeanette White and Joe Benning. Committee Chairman Dick Sears told Vermont Public Radio to expect revisions to that proposal in the coming days. During public testimony last week in Brattleboro and Bennington, “we picked up some ideas that we’ll probably put into the bill,” he said.
The more Vermonters hear about regulated legalization, the more they seem to like the idea — or at least temper their opposition. A Castleton Polling Institute survey in February 2015 found 54 percent support for legalization, with 40 percent opposition and 6 percent undecided. The same poll taken in September 2015 found 56 percent support, 34 percent opposition, and 10 percent undecided.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sears said last week he’d like to pass the legislation out of committee this Friday, Jan. 29, at which point it would go to the full Senate floor.
Read more about former Attorney General Cheney and the thinking behind his support for regulated legalization in an exclusive Q&A with Leafly associate editor Ben Adlin.