State Senator Benning: Why VT Republicans Should Favor Legalization

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(Via VT Digger)  If you haven't been paying attention to the VT cannabis news, and/or VT Digger comment section, you might be surprised to learn that a Republican trial attorney from the NEK is in favor of legalization.  But in this commentary piece published by VT Digger, Senator Joe Benning (R-Caledonia/Orange) discussed why he thinks prohibition conflicts with traditional VT Republican values and why law enforcement doesn't need to wait for a breathalyzer.  Senator Benning serves as Senate Minority Chair, is vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, AND serves on the Government Operations Committee.

October 20, 2015 at 11:43 am
I recently wrote about this on Vermontijuana (other updates and commentary from the last week) : http://www.vermontijuana.com/vermontijuanablog/2015/10/14/state-of-the-state-october-10-16-2015
My basic premise is that: for myriad reasons, a breathalyzer-type test (or something similarly quantitative) is neither technologically feasible right now, nor just. While it would be much simpler for law enforcement, there are other measures being used (Drug Recognition Experts), which are not necessarily the most effective, but the correlation between drugged driving accidents/fatalities and legalized recreational use is not always as it appears: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russ-belville/kevin-sabet-is-misleading_b_8192098.html The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) Report group are far from the only ones manipulating and misrepresenting statistics, but this is the same group that “informed” the Vermont League of Cities & Towns’ opinion. More links to back this up on the state of the state section of the vermontijuana website .
What I’d propose to Senator Benning, and other policy makers to address enforcement:
As part of the legislation, allocate a percentage of the revenue specifically to increasing training for drug recognition experts, better state police internal oversight to prevent corruption (reduce existing fraud through things like overtime manipulation and more anti-corruption focus as a huge cash influx enters the state), then buy more body cameras (and the supporting software/training), and pay more public defenders to help when there are miscarriages that come from a new enforcement paradigm.
If you want to see more NEK discussion from September, including earlier conversations on law enforcement, the full meeting is on Kingdom Access: http://www.katv.org/vod/forums/2015/cannabis082115
Personally, I think Senator Benning represents a very reasonable law enforcement perspective and even if I didn’t, I sincerely applaud his proactive and engaging stance…this is the way to gather real input from Vermonters and create an informed perspective leading up to the session and this huge issue.
–Eli Harrington, Vermontijuana