In the latest in a series of debates before the Nov. 6 election, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist took different positions on the potential for a regulated market for recreational marijuana. 

Scott held firm to his belief that Vermont isn’t ready for retail marijuana.

“I believe that we should look at impairment on the highway before we move forward,” Scott said. “We also need more education for our kids.”

Hallquist argued that if safety is the main concern, retail sales are better than an unregulated black market. 

“We don’t know where our marijuana is coming from, what it’s been grown with, or what it’s been sprayed with,” Hallquist said. “Worse yet, you could see situations like New York, where it’s cut with other things of addictive and dangerous properties.”

Wednesday’s debate was sponsored by Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS. According to a VPR – Vermont PBS poll, published this week, Scott has a 14-point lead over Hallquist, who is trying to become the first openly transgender governor in the country.

The debate format gave the candidates the opportunity to question each other.

Scott asked Hallquist why she didn’t try to connect rural Vermont to high-speed internet when she was chief executive officer of Vermont Electric Coop.

“I was introducing that to our co-op board of directors when I left,” Hallquist said. “When I decided to run for governor, I thought I’d do it for the whole state because it’s such a good idea.”

Scott, citing a source from inside Vermont Electric Coop, replied, “Would you be surprised to hear that one of your board members said you abandoned the effort because it would cost too much money?” 

More debates are scheduled over the next two weeks, where Hallquist will look to gain ground on Scott’s lead in the polls.