A time to resolve it

BRATTLEBORO — Though at times we might be embattled, it is far and away the things that unite us that lay down the common ground before us. Given a chance, together we can continue to effect change.

When I first canvassed for marijuana decriminalization in Vermont in 2010, to my great surprise the majority of people said, “Why decriminalize marijuana? They should just legalize it.”

As important as decriminalization is in 2013, what most Vermonters hold in common is a sensible form of marijuana legalization for an adult consumers' market.

Daryl Pillsbury, Paul Bennett, and I formed Marijuana Resolve to help bring awareness to the injustice of criminalizing adults for personal use and possession of marijuana. The amazing thing to the many people we talked to was why it was not decriminalized before 2010.

In a state known for its progressiveness and being ahead of other states on deciding tough social issues, the Vermont Legislature has been recalcitrant with respect to its openness to debate marijuana laws. Considering that marijuana use here is roughly 20 percent (or more) of the state's population, Vermont clearly had not the vision that 14 other states had to realize it was time to resolve this social conflict in favor of broad-based support for change in the marijuana laws.

Now that the state legislatures in Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, it has the odd effect of making decriminalization seem woefully out of step. There is no question that other states will legalize marijuana in the 2014 and 2016 elections. Will Vermont be one of them?

Despite signals of willingness to change the marijuana laws coming from Montpelier and our Governor who clearly supports marijuana for adult consumption, what's missing is you.

The complacency in this state about the legalization of marijuana is stunning. There has been no significant grassroots movement here for change. Until the BTV referendum urging Burlington voters to legalize marijuana was overwhelmingly passed in the 2012 November election, activism here has been lukewarm at best.

If there was ever a time for you the people to contact your state legislators, it is “now.” If you fail to follow through and not call for decriminalization, at the least, and ideally legalization in 2013, there will remain a criminalization mire waiting for you to wallow in.

Daryl Pillsbury is the man you should turn to locally; Jeanette White, Joe Benning, Phil Baruth, Jason Lorber, Shap Smith and William Lippert and others in the state legislature are the concerned legislators you should support.

Come this April, if you have not actively let your support be known for adult marijuana consumption along the alcohol model, try explaining it to the people who will continue suffering under the misnomer known as the criminal “justice” system.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates