Vermont Lawmakers are Calling for Alcohol Prohibition

April 20th 2015

Laura Donovan

Just in time for 4/20, Vermont State Representatives Chris Pearson and Jean O’Sullivan introduced legislation that would resurrect alcohol prohibition, a move that seems crazy but is solely intended to highlight the silliness of banning marijuana, which is far less harmful than alcohol

"The object was to basically embarrass leadership to say that we have [marijuana legalization bills] in front of us, and they're going absolutely nowhere," O'Sullivan told The Huffington Post. "We're certainly not going to ban alcohol, but when you say you'll let a drug like that be legalized and then you have a drug like marijuana that's far safer that's still banned, it's completely ironic." 

Earlier this month, Pearson and O'Sullivan filed the bill, which would fine those in possession of small amounts of alcohol up to $500. Anyone found distributing or selling alcohol could face 30 years behind bars and $1 million in fines. Though O'Sullivan doesn't actually want booze to be illegal in Vermont, she would like to see marijuana get a little more credit from the government. 

Pearson and O'Sullivan drafted this legislation based on “recent scientific studies that demonstrate that alcohol use is significantly more dangerous that marijuana use,” according to Vermont Public Radio. Pearson cites the high volume of alcohol-related deaths each year in a release regarding the legislation, adding, "Marijuana, on the other hand, kills almost no one."

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Earlier this year, findings from a Scientific Reports paper revealed alcohol is almost 115 times more dangerous than marijuana. After the researchers compared lethal ingestion levels of alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, meth, and marijuana, they concluded pot was the sole substance with a low rate of death. 

Not only is marijuana less harmful than alcohol, but it also has some mental health benefits, according to a new study from neuroscientists at the University of Buffalo’s Institute on Addictions. The researchers found that THC, an active compound in marijuana, could lower levels of depression in users.

“Using compounds derived from cannabis – marijuana – to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, the study’s lead researcher, said in a press release.

Last week, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta published a long piece calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, arguing it could help treat a broad range of health issues from epilepsy to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

"I see a revolution in the attitudes of everyday Americans," Dr. Gupta wrote. "For the first time a majority, 53%, favor its legalization, with 77% supporting it for medical purposes ... With regard to pain alone, marijuana could greatly reduce the demand for narcotics and simultaneously decrease the number of accidental painkiller overdoses, which are the greatest cause of preventable death in this country."