For the second year in a row the Burlington City Council debated whether to ask voters if they are interested in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana by way of a ballot question. For the second year in a row the City Council shot down the idea of letting voters weigh in.
Councilors voted 8 to 6, Monday night, against putting an advisory referendum on the March 3 Town Meeting Day ballot. Ed Adrian proposed the initiative, which would have asked voters if they want the city to urge lawmakers to examine the issue of decriminalizing marijuana.
"I think it's clear that after 70 or 80 years of active law enforcement against marijuana and the fact that we have not been able to solve the problem over that time period speaks volumes and I think it speaks volumes in that it's at least time to start looking at something else," said Adrian.
He garnered community support from several people who spoke at Monday's meeting.
"In this time of economic downturn I think that we might be able to spend our time and our resources and our money fighting real crime against persons and property," said Nancy Lynch, of the Vermont Alliance for Intelligent Drug Laws.
Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling testified against the measure. He said even small amounts of marijuana pose a problem because they are just the tip of a much larger network of drug dealing. He was also concerned about confusing children.
"The dangerous educational message it sends to youth that it starts to blur the line about where safety really needs to be considered," said Schirling.
Councilors debated for over an hour before making their final decision.
Bianca Slota - WCAX News