Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon is proposing an ordinance related to the impending legalization of marijuana this summer.
“This isn’t going to be an issue only in Barre, it’s going to be an issue in Burlington, in Winooski, in Rutland, in Corinth, in Cabot,” said Lauzon.
Lauzon is talking about people who choose to grow marijuana, but aren’t doing so in compliance with Vermont’s new law.
On July 1st, Vermonters 21 and older can possess up to an ounce, and grow two mature plants, or four immature plants.
“All of the monitoring, all of the compliance is gonna fall in the laps of municipalities, and quite frankly, most municipalities in Vermont are not prepared to deal with it,” said Lauzon.
Lauzon has drafted what he says is a proactive public safety ordinance.
“We’re a small city, most homes are very closely clustered. I am concerned and our fire department is concerned about people not understanding how grow lights, how much heat they produce, the danger associated with not having dedicated circuits or ground fault interrupters, and they’re concerned about people just setting up a grow facility in their basement that’s going to be unsafe,” said Lauzon.
The ordinance would require those in Barre City wanting to grow their own pot to apply for a $250 license, with a $100 yearly renewal fee.
Lia Ernst is a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. She says under the new state law, local municipalities don’t have the right to do this.
“It’s a wonderful initiative if the goal is in fact to educate people and promote public safety and promote safety of people who are growing in their homes. This doesn’t do that. There shouldn’t be any fee associated with exercising lawful conduct that the legislature has expressly allowed people to do,” said Ernst.
Ernst adds, there’s also an added privacy concern.
“The application itself indicates someone who applies for a license is subject to inspection, and it says in the application, including by law enforcement, so that to me suggests that the privacy of this list, or the prohibition on sharing it with law enforcement is not in fact contemplated by this proposal,” said Ernst.
Lauzon says that’s not the case.
“It’s going to be our housing inspection folks, not law enforcement. This is simply an attempt to be proactive in terms of educating people about how they can grow, about how the facility has to be secured, the facility has to be shielded from public view. It’s really about public education and keeping people on the right side of the law,” said Lauzon.
Tuesday night will be the first reading of the ordinance; a second reading is needed before it can be passed.
Local 22 & Local 44 News has reached out to Governor Phil Scott’s office for comment and did not receive a response at the time of this publication.