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Vt. governor candidates talk pot - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. governor candidates talk pot

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The chances for legal pot in Vermont's near future will hinge on voter decisions up and down the ballot this November. At the top of the ticket, there's a stark contrast.

Issue-based voters don't need to take a deep dive into the weeds to find the policy differences between Democrat Sue Minter and Republican Phil Scott on marijuana.

"I support legalization and regulation of marijuana," said Minter. 

"I'm not opposed to it in the future. I'm not saying never, I'm just saying not now," said Scott.

Last year, a legalization bill burned out in the Vermont House after the Senate became the first in the country to pass such a measure.

Scott watched and presided over the deliberation as lieutenant governor.

"I was surprised at how much debate there was. Again, I didn't think we had the information we needed to make a decision at that point in time," said Scott.

Another debate is expected to bud in January with the start of a new legislative session.

"I have confidence in that process, and I will be working with legislators. When they have come up with a bill that meets my requirements for implementation, I will sign it," said Minter. 

Minter's stated requirements mirror those outlined by current Governor Peter Shumlin. She says the state would need a roadside test, an effective regulation regime and to devote any tax revenue to enforcement, as well as drug education and abuse prevention efforts. 

"This could be an opportunity for us to find the revenues we need to address, in such an important way, the challenge we're facing with opiates," said Minter. 

Scott says he would follow the advice of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who has suggested other states wait on further results from that state's experiment.

"And go into it with our eyes wide open and make sure that we are able to address some of the issues they're facing, we can't afford to make mistakes," said Scott.

Scott says he doesn't think legal weed would grow business in Vermont or enough to counter associated costs.

Ballot initiatives on legal weed will go before voters this November in Arizona, California, Nevada, nearby Maine and neighboring Massachusetts.

But in Vermont, voters' best chances to weigh-in will be in the governor's race.

Scott says he's never tried marijuana; Minter says she did in college.

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