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Campaign Countdown: Where the candidates for governor stand on regulated cannabis

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 4:16 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A taxed and regulated market for cannabis in Vermont is a key issue for campaign 2020. Both Governor Phil Scott and his Democratic challenger, Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman support the sale of the new commodity, but their vision of how the market would look are worlds apart.

For the past several years, as the regulated cannabis issue gained traction, Governor Scott has insisted that any legislation focus on roadway safety and keeping impaired drivers off the road. “I’ve never been philosophically opposed to a retail market, I just have concerns about that,” Scott said.

He wants police to be able to test saliva for THC without a warrant, but critics say this opens the door to numerous civil lawsuits because saliva tests only show the presence of THC, not impairment.

Two years ago, Scott signed off on a pot bill. And before the pandemic broke out, he proposed funneling cannabis tax revenue toward a universal afterschool program.

He says his administration would put an emphasis on education and prevention when a retail market comes online. “To make sure we’re doing this the right way with our eyes wide open and that we’re protecting the citizens of Vermont,” Scott said.

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman for years has been one of the leading advocates of bringing a legal market to the state. The Hinesburg organic farmer and longtime lawmaker says that equal opportunities for creating a farm or business are a must. He also says Vermont needs a rigid regulatory framework to make sure what hits the shelves is safe.

“I’d want to make sure it’s a clean product and that it’s well regulated, as far as who has access to it and the purchase and sale. Part of the goal here is to make sure it’s an adult-use market, it’s not a youth market,” Zuckerman said

He says he’s generally against roadside saliva tests because of privacy concerns, but he says he supports testing with a warrant. “The hybrid that they’ve found to allow it, just like they do with a blood test with a warrant at the barracks. With a warrant doesn’t cross the line for me,” Zuckerman said.

Even as lawmakers make progress on setting up a taxed and regulated market for pot, Vermont is still years away from it hitting the shelves.

Whoever wins in November will govern over the new market and oversee how it’s rolled out.

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