Pot legalization defies party lines

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In national polls, Republicans are still the biggest opponents of marijuana legalization, but that picture is rapidly changing in Vermont and elsewhere.

Vermont Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning is one of the state’s strongest proponents of legalization. The Republican from Caledonia has written opinion letters to local newspapers arguing that legalization will ensure safer pot products and give the state an economic boost. He is a member of a Senate committee that has been hearing testimony and crafting legislation to legalize recreational pot. The committee is scheduled to file the bill in January when the Legislature reconvenes.

“The issue has gone beyond just the ideological question into how to do it mechanically, and that conversation has given us a pretty good handle on what we think should be happening here,” Benning said.

Benning is a longtime supporter of legalized pot.

“I’ve been pretty much under this impression since 1975,” Benning...

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