PEAR Vermont Advocacy Update
Mental Health & Substance Use and Misuse Priorities
Legislative Session 2016, Week 7
The Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) and Friends of Recovery Vermont (FOR-VT) held our 18th annual Recovery Day at the Vermont State House on Wednesday, February 17, 2016. Wow. Hundreds of Vermonters packed the statehouse for a day filled with personal stories, advocacy, testimony before key committees, and our annual awards.
The event joyously demonstrated and proclaimed that “People Recover!” Kudos go to VAMHAR Board member and FOR-VT Chair Lee Larson for her hard-work and brilliant execution. Our community visited with and heard from a number of key state legislators. We also presented our annual Jack Barry communications award to Vermont Public Radio (VPR) for their stellar coverage of recovery in Vermont. VPR President Robin Turnau accepted the award. Governor Peter Shumlin spoke to the crowd and received our Recovery Champion Award for his career-long commitment to the power of recovery.
Attorneys General Unite
On the other hand, Attorney General Bill Sorrell joined former Attorneys General Kim Cheney and M. Jerome Diamond in endorsing the pot legalization initiative. Agreeing with Governor Shumlin, Sorrell says that current laws still support criminal systems: gangs and cartels. Sorrell believes the state should focus on harm reduction through prevention, education, treatment and smart enforcement. He says that regulation is the best approach, as opposed to prohibition.
Pot Bill Slows
The pot legalization bill has hit a bit of a snag in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Once appearing to be on a fast track, the senior committee has concerns and is taking a very serious look at the financial and the policy implications of the move. The bill had been predicted to be on the floor as early as this past week, but now will not leave committee before the middle of next – that is if it leaves the Appropriations Committee at all. Odds-makers in the State House call it no better than 50/50.
Further Reading: Gov. Shumlin Statement on Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Vermont
From the Dept. of Health: Health Impact Assessment: Marijuana Regulation in Vermont