Editor’s note: This commentary is by Virginia Burley, who is a member of the steering committees of SAM-VT (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and Prevention Works. She was a longtime member of the U-32 School Board and the founder and director of the afterschool and summer learning program Community Connections.
When the Vermont Legislature legalized medical marijuana in 2003, our system was one of the most carefully regulated and safest in the country. Based on the advice of the Vermont Department of Health and the documented experiences in states that had already legalized medical marijuana, the bill’s provisions were written to protect patients and limit, as much as possible, the potential harms to public health.
• The bill limited the number of dispensaries,
• required dispensaries to be nonprofit businesses,
• forbade advertising in any form,
• stipulated that doctors could prescribe medical marijuana only for patients they had been seeing in a professional relationship for several months,
• limited patients to one caretaker and caretakers to one patient at a time,
• limited the amount of marijuana that patients, caretakers, and dispensaries could grow,
• limited the amount of marijuana a patient could