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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

A Bill To Ban Alcohol? Weed Legalization Supporters Say It Makes A Point

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Jeff Chiu
/
AP
Medical marijuana clone plants grow at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California in 2011. A bill to ban alcohol is the latest rhetorical flourish by lawmakers hoping to legalize marijuana in Vermont.

Representatives Chris Pearson and Jean O’Sullivan introduced a bill this week to reinstate the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Vermont, but they don’t want it to pass.

The bill, which would make possession of alcohol punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million, is the latest rhetorical flourish by lawmakers hoping to legalize marijuana in Vermont.

The legislation, according to the lawmakers, is based on “recent scientific studies that demonstrate that alcohol use is significantly more dangerous that marijuana use.” By their logic, if the less dangerous substance is illegal, then the more dangerous one should be outlawed as well.

In a release about the bill, Progressive Rep. Chris Pearson of Burlington cited statistics that show that alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes in the U.S., and there were more than 80,000 alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. in 2010.

“Marijuana, on the other hand, kills almost no one,” he said, acknowledging that driving under the influence of either marijuana or alcohol can increase risk.

Democrat Jean O’Sullivan of Burlington cosponsored the bill, but also doesn’t want to see it pass.

The bill has yet to see any action in the Statehouse.

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