Feb 232016
 February 23, 2016

church drug war christian marijuanaIn a letter to state senators on Tuesday, a diverse group of more than a dozen local clergy and faith leaders from across Vermont expressed support for legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. The bill, S. 241, is expected to receive a full Senate vote this week.

The full letter, including a list of signatories, is pasted at the bottom of this release.

In the letter, the faith leaders say they believe they have “a moral obligation to support change” because the state’s current marijuana prohibition laws “have caused more harm than good for the people of Vermont” and they are “disproportionately enforced against the poor and people of color.”

“As those who teach compassion and love, we believe the harm associated with marijuana can best be minimized through a regulated system that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment rather than punishment,” they said. “For these reasons, we support S. 241, the proposal to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in Vermont.”

  1. 241 would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

“Prohibition places power in the hands of drug cartels and organized crime,” said Rev. Elissa Johnk of Middlesex, one of the clergy members who signed the letter. ”Regulation places it in the hands of law and health officials. Prohibition encourages disregard for the rule and role of law, particularly as its enforcement disproportionately and drastically affects people of color.”

Full letter from Vermont faith leaders to the members of the Vermont Senate:

To the Honorable Members of the Vermont Senate,

What we punish people for and how we punish them are moral questions. When a policy that involves punishment fails to meet its objectives and causes harm to those it is intended to protect, we believe we have a moral obligation to support change.

Laws that punish otherwise law-abiding adults simply for using marijuana have caused more harm than good for the people of Vermont. They have also been disproportionately enforced against the poor and people of color.

 As those who teach compassion and love, we believe the harm associated with marijuana can best be minimized through a regulated system that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment rather than punishment.

For these reasons, we support S. 241, the proposal to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in Vermont.
Sincerely,

Rev. Barnaby Feder, Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, Middlebury

Roy V. Hill, II, president, Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society, Burlington

Rev. Elissa Johnk, Middlesex

Cantor Kate Judd, Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, Brattleboro

Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy, Springfield Unitarian Universalist Church, Springfield

Pastor Jeremy Kirk, First Congregational Church of West Brattleboro, West Brattleboro

Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre

Rev. Katelyn Macrae, Richmond

Rev. Bert Marshall, Centre Congregational Church, West Brattleboro

Rev. Peter Plagge, Waterbury Congregational Church, Waterbury

Rev. Abigail Stockman, First Church in Barre, Universalist, Barre

Rev. Ken White, College Street Congregational Church, Burlington

Rev. Peggy Yingst, Trinity Lutheran Church, Brattleboro

# # #

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is a broad coalition of citizens, organizations, and businesses working to end marijuana prohibition in Vermont and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateVermont.org.

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  • 1Bugler1

    No Catholic churches? Interesting……………….

    • Blah Blah Blah

      The Church of the Good Shepherd might be Catholic and there’s an Ecumenical Society that might include a few Catholics sprinkled in. LOLOL.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      Catholics have a tendency to be more approving of the nanny state, it’s part of their culture I think. Even the esteemed Pope Francis doesn’t get it when it comes to the war on users of the ‘wrong’ drugs, alcohol gets a free pass from him, and as far as I know weed just gets lumped together by him with harder drugs..

  • Jon

    Good for them.

  • AntiIgnorant

    Cannabis is so dangerous for me right now… feeling good, sitting on the couch, reading news and listening to Felix Mendelssohn (Violin Concerto E Minor OP.64) performed by Hilary Hahn. I am such a danger to myself and society right now…

    Prohibitionists are morons…

    • EddyMelv

      Hmmmmm. And here I sit at the age of 61, listening to Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart in Amsterdam, not bothering a soul. A few years back, I was listening to Neil Young all while not bothering a soul, when all of a sudden my life changed. My trusted female partner of many years brought The Man to my home. I am, by definition, a criminal with a record — right in there with the burglars, the robbers, the Bernie Madoffs, the rapists, the child molesters, the Wall Street thugs, the animal abusers, the teachers touching their students, the slippery bookkeepers, the welfare cheats (including the medical providers who “participate”), etc., etc. Yup, after never having any legal issues whatsoever in the previous fifty-five years of my life, I am all of a sudden a convicted criminal. The effects —lost my freedom, a good chunk of my retirement, and the ability to find good employment again . All because I chose to relieve my pain with something that won’t kill me. What makes me ill is not my pain —- it’s the travesty of a government that we have jammed down our throat —- THAT is what makes me sick. Our government WANTS our society opiated — it’s part of the dummying down of anyone who is not at the very top tier of this mess created by the loving bedmates of Big Brother and Big Business. Democracy ? Hah. One point on this article: I do notice that none of the “Big Churches” were represented. These that signed on all appear to be smaller religious organizations. This phenomenon certainly could be a discussion all on its own…

      • saynotohypocrisy

        I hope you consider your ‘criminal record’ a badge of honor. I certainly do mine. I’m currently threatening society by listening to the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

      • nixnoutz

        Tommy Chong mentioned a couple times that his wife tried to talk him out of smoking. During the online comedy shows I watched last night. He said he consumes edibles often. ”Puff Puff Laugh” was one of the two comedy shows I watched. ”Tommy Chong Presents Comedy at 420” was the other.