The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee, which is weighing whether to legalize and regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, is hearing from the public on the issue this week.

A series of five field hearings started Monday afternoon in Bennington, in advance of a committee vote later this month on whether to advance a bill to the full Senate.

"We decided to get out of the Statehouse and hear from people in their own communities," said Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County."So often, the Statehouse is where there are a lot of lobbyists, but we want to hear directly from the people of Vermont."

The crowd attending the Bennington hearing seemed about evenly split, with half the speakers voicing support for marijuana legalization, and half urging the Senate panel to proceed with caution.

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Jack Thurston ~ ~

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