Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks at a news conference at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Tuesday, April 14.(Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS FILE)

BURLINGTON, Vt. — When it comes to teenage drug use, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said this week he “can show you the numbers” to support an argument for regulating marijuana like alcohol.
Upon request, however, he was unable to produce the numbers — and later acknowledged he “misspoke.”
At a Monday news conference about preventing substance abuse among Vermonters ages 12-25, a reporter asked Shumlin to explain prevention strategies in light of the governor’s support for legalizing marijuana.
Shumlin replied that Vermont teens can find marijuana more easily than alcohol.

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“If you talk to Vermont adolescents, and you ask them in a survey — and we can show you the numbers — is it easier for you to get marijuana or alcohol? Most of them will say it’s easier to get marijuana,” Shumlin said. “Now, the reason for that is that we regulate alcohol.”
“I would argue that one reason that it’s easier for minors to get marijuana in Vermont than it is alcohol is that the state won’t sell to minors, and dealers will,” Shumlin added moments later.
The governor’s central claim is inaccurate, according to the latest statistics from the Vermont High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

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In the survey, 72% of Vermont high-school students said it was easy or very easy to get alcohol, compared with 63% who said it’d be easy or very easy to get marijuana.
Alcohol is perceived as easier to obtain for females and for males, and for all grades.
Likewise, in the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse, teens across the United States say they can obtain beer more easily than marijuana.
A spokesman for Shumlin was unable to find a Vermont study to support the governor’s statement, though a national survey in 2002 found it was easier for teenagers to buy — not obtain — marijuana than beer.
The availability of marijuana for kids and teens has come up several times in Vermont’s legalization debate, as well as elsewhere in the nation.

“Young people can get marijuana in Vermont, and dealers don’t care who they’re selling to. I believe, in a regulated market, we have a …Read More