Police chiefs oppose marijuana legalization in Vermont

On behalf of the Vermont Police Association, the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and the Vermont Sheriffs Association, we write this letter in opposition of H.511 (legalization of marijuana). Our members are extremely disappointed that Gov. Scott expressed a wiliness to sign a legalization bill prior to release of the progress report the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission intends to issue on Jan. 15, and prior to the release of the commission’s final report due on Dec. 15.
The Vermont House of Representatives just last week on Jan. 4 voted 63-81 against waiting to see the report from the commission before they voted on H.511. Apparently, all the research and subject matter experts’ opinions are not important enough to be considered in this discussion. We find this behavior irresponsible, extremely frustrating and concerning. We are disappointed in the conduct of our elected officials as they rush to legalize marijuana without allowing all the facts to be fully vetted.
We believe that this decision is ill-advised, presents safety concerns to our communities and law enforcement, and ignores the work and purpose of the commission. Our associations advocated for the formation of a commission to identify public safety and youth at risk benchmarks that should be met before legalization. These benchmarks are not even close to being fully identified or accomplished.
The membership of the Vermont Police Association, the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and the Vermont Sheriffs Association do not support passage of H.511. We urge Gov. Scott to reconsider his position and veto H. 511.
We also urge Gov. Scott to veto all other legalization bills until the commission finishes its work and all recommended benchmarks are achieved.
Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison, president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police
Winooski Police Officer Derrick Kendrew, president of the Vermont Police Association
Orange County Sheriff William Bohnyak, president of the Vermont Sheriffs Association
Vergennes Police Chief George P. Merkel, past president of the Vermont Police Association

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