Vermont House Approves Bill to Allow People With ‘Debilitating Diseases’ to Use Marijuana
The Vermont House of Representatives voted 82-59 on Friday to permit people with "debilitating diseases" such as AIDS to use marijuana for medicinal purposes without fear of legal repercussions from the state, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 3/16). The bill, which faces an "uncertain" future in the Senate, allows patients who obtain a certificate from their doctor to possess up to three mature cannabis plants, four immature plants or three ounces of usable marijuana without penalty. Physicians issuing the certificates would also be exempt from prosecution. Many lawmakers tried to defeat the bill out of "widespread concern" that it would lead to full-scale legalization of the drug. "What kind of message is this we're sending to our children and, as far as that goes, to the United States?" Rep. Loren Shaw (R) asked, adding, "We're lawmakers and we're supposed to be making the law, not breaking the law. And here we are breaking federal law." Rep. Allen Palmer (R) said he does not "condone the recreational use of marijuana" but was voting for the bill because it would "do good for a few people who really need it." Gov. Howard Dean (D) opposes the bill and has "suggested" that he will "pressure" senators to defeat it. If it passes the Senate, Dean may veto the bill (Sneyd, Associated Press, 3/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.