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Stuart Savel speaks during a public meeting at the River Garden in Brattleboro on legalization of recreational pot.The Senate Committee on Government Operations plans to present a legalization bill in January.(Photo: Paris Achen/Free Press)Buy Photo

BRATTLEBORO – Vermont marijuana growers and other interested parties urged lawmakers on Monday to take a local approach to legalization of recreational marijuana next year.
“A lot of the cannabis in Vermont comes from local people, and it’s some of the best in the world,” said Stuart Savel of Brattleboro. “To reinvent the wheel and say now, we are going to teach people how to do it and start anew is in a sense throwing away the baby with the bathwater.”
The state needs to promote local cultivation and then come up with a distribution system for growers, Savel said.
Savel was one of more than 60 people who turned out for a public meeting at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden Monday hosted by Cannabis Collaborative, Vermont Home Grown and Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations.
Members of the Senate committee plan to meet in November to begin crafting legislation to legalize recreational pot to be presented in January. White said she wanted to hear from her constituents about what kind of policy they’d like to see. The Cannabis Collaborative and Vermont Home Grown are promoting legalization as a economic boost to the state.
In 2014, Vermonters spent an estimated $125 million to $225 million on marijuana, according to a study earlier this year by the RAND Corp. That could translate into significant tax revenue if the state ended its prohibition on recreational marijuana sales, the study found.
“I think the momentum is growing,” White said. “In my opinion, it is inevitable that it is going to happen. My concern is that it happens the Vermont way, which is kind of hard to define, but for many of us it means small, local and keeping control of it.”
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Medical marijuana was legalized about 10 years ago, but there has been no way to legally sell pot for recreational purposes.
Some local growers said they are concerned legalization will sideline …Read More