#vtpoli

Philip Baruth – Vermont Senate, Chittenden

The bill passed by the Senate several times over the past few years isn’t what I would call ideal in itself, but it is ideally situated to pass the House and Senate, and be signed by the Governor, this coming session. Some funds would be routed to substance abuse programs; my stance, as Chair of Senate Education, is that another chunk of those funds should go to support the State College system and lowering debt burden for Vermont families.

Heady Vermont Staff
Heady Vermont Staff 8 Aug 2018

What, in your mind, is the ideal structure for a functional legal Tax and Regulate system? How would you work with other branches of government to create this kind of system?

The bill passed by the Senate several times over the past few years isn’t what I would call ideal in itself, but it is ideally situated to pass the House and Senate, and be signed by the Governor, this coming session. Some funds would be routed to substance abuse programs; my stance, as Chair of Senate Education, is that another chunk of those funds should go to support the State College system and lowering debt burden for Vermont families.

How would you assess Vermont’s current medical marijuana program? How will you ensure that registered medical patients and caregivers have access to an abundance of high-quality cannabis products priced at or below market rates?
I think our current medical marijuana program works well — my understanding is that there have been very few complaints about its operation, other than that folks would like covered conditions expanded . . . but tax and regulate would take care of that, in my opinion.
How will you ensure that people who’ve been disproportionately affected by prohibition (such as convicts and People Of Color) will have an equal opportunity to participate in Vermont’s legal cannabis industry? In particular, how will you work for statewide expungement of convictions for possession?
I would certainly amend any tax and regulate bill to include expungement, if that were not already an element.
How will you make sure that all Vermonters have equal access to joining the legal cannabis industry as small and startup businesses?
Our liquor industry is a “heavy control” industry — the Liquor Board is careful about which licenses they greenlight, and where. But they are also charged with making sure that the licenses are fairly distributed, geographically and otherwise. A parallel structure might be given the task of making sure marijuana licenses (for lounges or distribution/sale) are distributed and not aggregated into large umbrella organizations.ed.
Do you think state can sustain both a medical and a recreational program – or would you combine cannabis regulations into one system?
I have no prejudice on this issue — I’d listen to testimony from those benefiting from MM, and those interested in selling in a recreational system, and make sure that whatever system we have increases our beneficial effects from marijuana and doesn’t harm the existing system.
If tax-and-regulate is passed, how would you prefer to allocate cannabis revenues? To the general fund or to specific causes? If specific, please share any proposals.
Please see my answer to question 1.
Would you allow Vermont towns to enact temporary moratoriums or outright bans on legal cannabis businesses?
No. I believe there are currently five small towns in Vermont that have voted to be “dry” — that is, to prohibit sale of alcohol. But the ability to vote a town wet or dry strikes me as a byproduct of another era. We ended Prohibition — alcohol is legal, and allowing towns to create their own Prohibitions seems like bad policy. If we make the decision to allow the sale of marijuana in stores, and the enjoyment of it in lounge-like environments, then businesspeople should not be limited by a given selectboard’s views, or even a referendum of their townspeople.

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