For Immediate Release
May 3, 2016
Contact: Rep. Don Turner
Republican Proposal to Empower Vermonters with Direct Vote on Marijuana Legalization Defeated by House Democrats
Montpelier, Vt. – On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Don Turner (R-Milton) put forth an amendment to Bill H.858 to stop the expansion of decriminalization measures proposed by Rep. Chip Conquest (D-Newbury), and instead introduce a non-binding and advisory referendum on the controversial subject of marijuana legalization in Vermont.
The amendment added a provision to include the public question – “Should Vermont legalize marijuana for recreational use?” – on the 2016 August Primary ballot, thereby enabling Vermonters to weigh in on the important social issue and directly influence its outcome. Further, resolving the issue well ahead of the general election in November would provide sufficient time for candidates to collect relevant information required for campaigning, and to prepare for the next legislative session should they be elected.
Arguing in favor of the amendment, Rep. Joey Purvis (R-Colchester) said, “We need transparency here. To quote the Ben and Jerry’s slogan, ‘What’s the doughboy afraid of?’ Voters should have the opportunity to take part in civil discussion on an issue that will impact our state’s economy and culture in significant ways.”
Unfortunately, the motion failed with a vote count of 51-97. Rep. Turner stated, “On important matters with wide-ranging effects on public life and safety, such as the legalization of marijuana for recreation, I strongly believe that our constituents deserve the opportunity to make their voices directly heard. It is disappointing that Majority Democrats defeated the amendment, which I proposed in order to serve the best interests of Vermonters.”