One of the first things I wondered to myself early this week was how the fatal shooting in Rutland – which allegedly occurred during a deal for a small amount of marijuana – would affect the conversations in Montpelier over decriminalization of the plant.
And after sitting through the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pot Thursday, it’s clear that it probably won’t be much.
Sen. Kevin Mullin, a Republican from Rutland County, voted for the bill that came out of the committee yesterday. Interestingly, the lawmaker that voted against the bill is a Democrat from Windsor County, the same place that prosecutor Robert Sand (who kicked off these debates with his calls for new drug policies) hails from.
Mullin did raise the Rutland criminal case during talks Thursday, but only in his arguments to lower from two ounces to one ounce of marijuana for the proposed new regulation to kick in. The chair of the body, Bennington County Sen. Richard Sears, had suggested two ounces in his original rewrite of the bill, but clearly walked into Thursday’s meeting willing to compromise.
But the shooting clearly gave ammo to both sides of the debate this week. Opponents of decriminalization can point to the tragic situation as evidence that the plant is dangerous. Supporters can point out that it marijuana was decriminalized, folks might not have to interact with dealers who also carry guns and crack cocaine to get their dime bags.