Legislation

Judiciary bill downplays drug-dealer amount of cocaine, heroin as ‘personal use’

Colin Davis/UnSplash photo

By Guy Page

Drug trafficker levels of cocaine possession are classified as “personal use” in the latest draft of a drug crime reclassification bill, the Vermont State’s Attorney’s office told House Judiciary this morning. 

H505 was sponsored by Judiciary Chair Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Rep. Martin LaLonde (D-South Burlington), and Rep. William Notte (D-Rutland) – all members of House Judiciary. 

The point of H505 is to “make progress on de-felonizing possession laws,” LaLonde told the committee this morning. 

But Evan Meenan, Deputy Director of the Vermont State’s Attorney and Sheriff’s Office, said the latest version of H505 makes a ‘personal use’ misdemeanor of possession of 30 grams of cocaine – 10 times the average “buy” on the street. That’s twice the 14.6 gram threshhold for drug trafficking possession allowed by Massachusetts, and three times the 10 grams permitted by Oregon, a state considered to have drug-crime permissive laws, he said. 

“The Department cannot support these changes,” Meenan said. “30 grams of coke, quite frankly, is a lot of coke. It is not consistent with personal use.” 30 grams is worth up to $3000 on the street. Most coke buyers purchase anywhere from a gram to 3.5 grams/one-eighth of an ounce, also known as an “eight ball.” 

“This bill would be a drastic departure” from current law and the laws of surrounding states, Meenan warned Judiciary. The bill proposes the creation of a drug sentencing advisory board, so “doing things like raising personal use to 30 grams arguably puts the cart before the horse.”

And speaking of horse – A/K/A cocaine – Meenan said his criticism of the high amount of cocaine permitted for personal use also apply to proposed personal use changes for heroin and other hard drugs. 

Meenan’s concern was echoed by Vice-Chair Tom Burditt (R-Rutland Town). He noted that the new statute would increase heroin ‘personal use’ possession by 2.5 times – from “20 bundles to 50 bundles.”

“I am deeply concerned with how much we’re changing all this,” Rep. Ken Goslant (R-Northfield) said. Vermont already has a terrible problem with youth overdosing on fentanyl, he said.

Lalonde, Grad, and committee member Selene Colburn (P-Burlington) all said the bill creates a Drug Use Standards Advisory Board, “to determine, for each regulated and unregulated drug, the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply.” 

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15 replies »

  1. Really sick, evil radical bastards in this legislature & the public at large has NO clue! They keep on voting for democrats because they “help” the “downtrodden”.

    The ONLY way to defeat these lawless lowlifes is for the VT GOP & the republican lawmakers to begin SENDING OUT easy to read & digest mass mailings to the constituency, paying for TV ads, & simply writing editorials & letters to the editor & commentaries to ALL VT publications.

    I can ASSURE you that MOST democrat-inclined voters don’t know anything about the majority of bills their “party” is seeking to pass & they do NOT want LESS law enforcement in VT!

    PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. This is the only means out of this mess that voter apathy & ignorance has caused!

  2. There using raising the to 30 grams as an excuse to have an advisery board?? Here’s a thought why can’t you put and advisory board together without raising the amount??? So is it really about putting an advisory board together or raising the legal limit???

  3. Perhaps the democrats and progressives should be doing their own publicity campaign as suggested by Kathy&Henry above to enlighten their constituents as to their intentions on this drug possession bill and other legislation. Why should the republicans be left to foot the bill in defense of their position. I think that if the public did know what the democrats were purposing, and the ramifications of their legislation, they would see for themselves how out of touch these people are.

  4. Yea, that is a lot of cocaine. Enough to kill too many innocent people medicating their “problems” away. I could NEVER afford 30 grams. Maybe that’s why I am still alive, and cannot smell anything. In my sordid experience, heroin was known as “horse” or “smack,” but maybe the “In-Crowd” today is calling cocaine Horse now. I am going on three years of abstinence and/or sobriety, so I am gratefully ignorant of narcotic trends today.

  5. “Heroin. Synonyms include Big H, brown sugar, dope, golden girls, H, horse, junk, poison, skag, smack, sweet dreams, tar, and train.”– From the web site of Phoenix House, a national alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention facility.

    To start with know what you are talking about, sorry Mr. Meean, although I agree with you I had to point the “horse” reference out. It is because of the lack of understand, ignorance, or the use of cocaine, that the likes of Grad, Lalonde, and Notte, would even suggest this ridiculous of H505. More nonsense and make work legislation that does nothing for the citizens of Vermont. I do not care if you have a “D” or “R” in front of your name, those who continue to ignore the safety and real needs of Vermonters should not be re-elected.

  6. Brilliant, one of the biggest crises Vermont is facing is the drug epidemic with overdoses at a record high, gun/gang violence increasing, and the best plan of some of our leaders is to make drugs MORE available? Indeed, give the drug dealers more freedom to peddle their “personal use” quantities. I wonder if Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Rep. Martin LaLonde (D-South Burlington), and Rep. William Notte (D-Rutland) have ever seen 30-grams of narcotics laid out on a table? Nobody that has would reasonably conclude that was for “personal use.”

  7. You can’t help but wonder if some our Representatives in Montpelier are setting the stage for absolutely no accountability for drug issues in the State of Vermont. Paving a way for Vermont becoming a drug hub for upstate NY and much of New England by Syndicate operations ( or Cartels) looking to setup shop. That probably would fit with the push to legitimize prostitution in Vermont. Seems like drugs and prostitution go hand in hand with Syndicate operations. So maybe we should be asking if some of our legislators are on their bank roll ?

  8. Are these people blind?! Why do they think relaxing laws is a good thing? Haven’t they noticed that crime is rampant in this country for this very reason? What makes them think it will work here?

  9. What is wrong with setting a zero limit for cocaine and heroin. Personal use? Should be arrested for any amount! The more people can carry around, the more people will be involved in purchasing, making business for those selling. Why doesn’t legislators realize this? Perhaps random drug testing should be a practice of legislators. Bet they would really protest at that idea. Why if there is no problem?

    • …but only if we first absolutely prohibit the distribution and use of Narcan, that we have been providing at great expense to us taxpayers.

  10. These legislators are beyond ignorant. Just because they legalized up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana, they are now conveniently comparing that to an ounce of cocaine or opioids? It’s like comparing milk to gasoline. What have these people been smoking?…or the more appropriate question is “what have those who voted for them been smoking?” That Rep. Lalonde has an irrational fear of LAWFULLY-OWNED firearms because of the potential they be used as a means of suicide, yet is apparently woefully ignorant of the number of Vermonters killed by their own decisions to use too much of an ILLEGAL opioid product and essentially commit suicide. What an idiot…

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