November 30, 2020
Otto van Bismarck is quoted as saying “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” That insight could apply with particular vitality to the state of the marijuana laws in Vermont. Just ask Bruce Prosper.
In 1990, when he was 17 years old, Prosper, who now lives in the tiny Vermont town of Bloomfield, dove into a shallow pond and was seriously injured. He is unable to move most of his body and travels by electric wheelchair. The condition also causes his a great deal of discomfort, and he discovered that marijuana helps alleviate the pain.
No problem there, right? Pot is legal in Vermont, right?
If only it were that simple.
For a number of years, Prosper had a medical marijuana card, but there are only five medical pot dispensaries in the state, and the nearest one is in Montpelier, which is a three-hour roundtrip (and where a 30-day supply could run anywhere from $600-$900). So in 2018, Prosper decided to let his registration lapse and, according to this article in VTDigger, started to grow pot for his own use. The first year, he lost everything to frost. The next year, he started with six plants, and again weather conditions ruined most of the crop. He was left with two plants, which is legal under current Vermont law.
This year, he decided to start off with even more plants — 15 — figuring he would lose about half of them. The remaining crop, he believed, would give him enough marijuana to last a year. That was all very well and good until the county sheriff and five deputies — each armed with a semi-automatic rifle — arrived with a search warrant.
And it’s not as if the sheriff was particularly happy about having to enforce the law. VTDigger quotes him as saying “I don’t want to be the state’s revenue collector,” and adding that it appeared to him as if the penalties were only left in statute as a way to generate income for the state.
It’s now up to the State’s Attorney to determine how (and whether) to pursue the matter.
Unless the legislature begins to display the courage of its convictions.