Press Release  | 01/07/2016

Vermont Governor Calls for Legalizing Marijuana in State of the State Address

Gov. Shumlin Declares Drug War a Failure and Calls for Expanded Overdose Prevention and Treatment Access

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin called on lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing and regulating marijuana in his final State of the State address today. He also declared the drug war a failure and expressed desire to continue emphasizing a health-based approach to drug policy by expanding treatment and overdose prevention programs, as well as by removing the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.

“Pete Shumlin is providing just the sort of leadership we need to see from other governors around the country,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Indeed, it’s a bit surprising, with a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, that he’s the only sitting governor to actively call for it.  I’m hopeful this is the start of a new trend.”

Gov. Shumlin stressed that a marijuana legalization measure should contain the following:

  • A legal market to keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids;
  • Tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of illegal drug dealers;
  • Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs;
  • Strengthened law enforcement capacity to improve our response to impaired drivers

With Shumlin entering his last year in office, this is a strong signal that he intends to make marijuana legalization a priority in the upcoming legislative session.  Vermont would become the first state to legalize through the legislative process.  Four states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana through the voter initiatives.

"The outdated war on drugs has also failed," said Shumlin, "and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws."


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Bill Piper 202-669-6430