Vermont Archives - Green Market Report

StaffStaffFebruary 23, 2021
psychedelic.jpg?fit=960%2C640&ssl=1

7min6140

Massachusetts lawmakers are moving forward to decriminalize psychedelic drugs. The effort began at the city level when Somerville and Cambridge adopted measures that would make possession of psychedelics a low law enforcement priority. Now it has moved to a state-wide initiative.

Cambridge

Cambridge’s city order read, “Drug policy in the United States and the so-called “War on Drugs” has historically led to unnecessary penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and of limited financial means, instead of prioritizing harm-reduction policies that treat drug abuse as an issue of public health. Entheogenic plants, which include a spectrum of natural plants, fungi, and natural materials, have been used for centuries by people in different cultures to address conditions including substance abuse, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), elements of Persistent Traumatic Stress Environment (PTSE) conditions, chronic depression, end-of-life anxiety, grief, cluster headaches, and tendencies toward recidivism, as well as to improve mental and socio-emotional health.”

The city resolved that the Middlesex County District Attorney  should “Cease the prosecution of persons involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants and the use or possession without the intent to distribute of any controlled substance.” It went on to say that the use and possession of all controlled substances should be understood first and primarily as an issue of public health by city departments, agencies, boards, commissions, and all employees of the city and that it should be the policy of the City of Cambridge that the arrest of adult persons for using or possessing controlled substances shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Cambridge.

State

Marijuana Moment reported that the state Senate version of the legislation, SD 2248, was introduced Friday by Sen. Julian Cyr (D) and was virtually identical to the House bill. Both measures are titled “An Act Relative to Harm Reduction and Racial Justice.” This bill stated, “No person knowingly or intentionally shall possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the provisions of this chapter.” It also limits any fines to $50.

A separate House bill introduced by Mike Connolly (D) on Friday would move even further than decriminalization and would set the stage for regulated sales of certain drugs. The House bill, HD 3829 language states that an interagency task force would be created to study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi. The task force will be made up of 21 members.

“The task force shall: (i) compile and review research regarding the physiological and psychological effects of entheogenic plants and fungi; (ii) compile testimony and data on the experiences of communities across the United States—including Somerville (MA), Cambridge (MA), Denver (CO), Oakland (CA), Santa Cruz (CA), Ann Arbor (MI), sovereign native lands, Washington D.C. and Oregon. The task force shall file a report of its findings and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives, the chairs of the senate and house committees on ways and means, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on public health, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on the judiciary, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on public safety and homeland security not later than June 2022.”

“Our coalition owes these bills to our volunteers across the Commonwealth,” the group Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, which was behind the successful local decriminalization efforts in Somerville and Cambridge, told Marijuana Moment in a statement. “From the vicious pain of opioid addiction and cluster headaches to the exclusion of people of color from the mental health care system, it’s your stories of redemption and hope that have created this movement.”

“I’m looking forward to a dialogue in Massachusetts to identify the most effective and evidence-based public health and harm reduction strategies that should replace the failed drug war,” Shaleen Title, a former Massachusetts cannabis regulator and longtime drug policy activist, told Marijuana Moment.

Vermont

Vermont, which borders Massachusetts is also laying the groundwork for some sort of decriminalization. The Vermont Digger reported that Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George was suggesting laws to that effect as a means to combat addiction issues. Rep. Selene Colburn, P/D-Burlington said, “a bill to decriminalize drugs across the board was still being drafted but would be introduced in the Legislature later this session at a press conference.”

 

 

 


StaffStaffSeptember 17, 2020
shutterstock_431193931.jpg?fit=960%2C640&ssl=1

6min6290

This week Vermont’s House and Senate negotiators reached a final agreement on S. 54, which is legislation that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales. The state had initially legalized cannabis but didn’t make sales of the product legal. This had the effect of decriminalization but also left the market in a grey zone of uncertainty. Only two states took the route of legalizing cannabis but making sales illegal.

The next step is for the legislation to get a final vote from both the House and Senate and then if it passes, which is expected, it will go to Governor Phil Scott to sign. The Governor has not expressed whether he will sign it or not. However, a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project showed that 76% of voters in the state approve of creating a legal cannabis market.

Matt Simon, New England political director at the Marijuana Policy Project said, “This final agreement has been a long time coming. Legislators should be applauded for their patience and their persistence. Vermont urgently needs the jobs, business opportunities, and tax revenue that S. 54 will provide. We hope Gov. Scott will see the wisdom in signing this bill into law.”

Another reason the state could be prompted to move quickly is the devastation the pandemic has had on Vermont’s economy. The state relies heavily on tourism but has imposed an extremely restrictive map of the places where visitors can come from. Even owners of second homes in the state are told they can’t visit their own property if they reside in a county that has too many COVID-19 cases. Luckily for the state, the pandemic hit just as last year’s ski season was winding down, but then summer tourism was lackluster as the state put more restrictions on lodging. Now business owners are getting nervous about the upcoming leaf-peeping season and then the new ski season. In short, the state will need revenue since tax collections are down.

Key provisions of the bill include: 

  • Priority licensing for small cultivators
  • Priority licensing for women and minority-owned businesses
  • Independent lab testing of all cannabis sold to patients and adult consumers
  • Creating a new independent commission to regulate medical and adult-use cannabis
  • Requiring a search warrant prior to saliva testing, which could not be conducted roadside

MPP also noted that the legislature also appears poised to pass S. 234, a bill that would require the automatic expungement of all criminal records for past low-level cannabis possession offenses. The bill would also decriminalize possession of cannabis in amounts that are up to twice the legal limit for adults and reduce some cannabis penalties.  You can read a full summary of the bill here.

Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana said, “Automatic, cost-free expungement of minor cannabis convictions is the right policy and now is the right time for it. This bill recognizes and takes a step towards repairing the horrific legacy of racism in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws. It is also fair, commonsense legislation that will help break cycles of poverty and criminality.”

 

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtFebruary 27, 2020
Vermont.jpg?fit=960%2C640&ssl=1

6min11250

Vermont has taken another step on its road towards the legalization of adult-use cannabis. The state had already legalized medical marijuana, but the residents quickly decided they wanted more. While some cannabis possession was legalized, the sale and taxation of the product weren’t.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted in favor (90-54) of a bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales for adults 21 and older. This is the first time the Vermont House has passed a bill to legalize cannabis sales.

Statement from Matt Simon, New England political director at the Marijuana Policy Project said, “Vermonters are overwhelmingly ready for regulated sales of cannabis to begin. The House should be applauded for advancing this important legislation, but the legislature’s work remains far from complete. The House and Senate will have to cooperate in the coming weeks to agree on a final bill to send to Gov. Phil Scott. This process presents a great opportunity for the governor and legislature to work together and move Vermont forward on cannabis policy.”

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, S. 54 will now be scheduled for a final House vote, which is expected tomorrow. If it passes there, it will return to the Senate, which has already approved a different version of the bill in a 23-5 vote. The House and Senate will have to agree on a final version of the bill before it can proceed to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk.

A summary of the bill can be found here.

If the bill is enacted, Vermont would join the 10 states that have laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use.

An overwhelming 76% of Vermont residents support allowing adults 21 and over to purchase cannabis from regulated, tax-paying small businesses according to a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project. The complete results are available here.

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJune 29, 2018
Vermont.jpg?fit=960%2C640&ssl=1

4min10542

Back in January, Vermont became the first state to legalize adult-use cannabis through legislative action versus the ballot box. That law, H. 511 will take effect on Sunday, July 1.

“Vermonters are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has been lobbying in Vermont since 2003. “Gov. Scott and the Legislature deserve a great deal of credit for listening to their constituents and moving forward with this first phase of legalization. Adults shouldn’t be punished for using a substance less harmful than alcohol, and starting July 1 they no longer will be in the Green Mountain State.

The new law will make it legal for adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. Retail sales and commercial growing will not take place at this tie. Instead, a governor-appointed task force is going to make recommendations about retail sales and commercial cultivation. A final report is expected by November 15. A newly elected legislature will consider that proposal when it convenes in January. There will be separate legislation in order to set some rules around regulating marijuana like alcohol.

“A regulated market will create jobs and spur economic development, giving young adults a reason to stay in Vermont rather than seeking opportunities in other states,” Simon said. “It will also produce much-needed tax revenue that can be used for substance abuse treatment and prevention. Most Vermonters understand that eliminating penalties is only the first step in ending marijuana prohibition, and they expect legislators to finish the job in 2019.”

According to MPP, H. 511 reads as follows:

Allow Adults to Possess and Cultivate Limited Amounts of Cannabis

Adults 21 and older will be allowed to:

  • Possess up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish;
  • Cultivate up to two mature and four immature plants in a secure location (the plant limit applies to the entire dwelling unit); and
  • Possess the marijuana produced by the plants at the same secure location. 

Send Younger People to Diversion for Growing a Small Number of Plants

  • Cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants by a person under 21 will be downgraded to a civil offense, punishable by diversion and enrollment in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program.

The new law does not keep cities from creating additional penalties for public consumption or change the law on driving under the influence. It also won’t limit schools from creating additional penalties and it won’t prevent landlords from prohibiting cannabis in a lease.

“Now that marijuana is legal for adults, it’s time for the state to get serious about regulating it and ensuring it is being produced and sold safely and legally.”


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJanuary 22, 2018
shutterstock_517304695.jpg?fit=960%2C640&ssl=1

4min15230

Vermont has become the ninth state to legalize marijuana. Governor Phil Scott signed H.511 with “mixed emotions.” The legislation allows people over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six plants. There will be no commercial sales of marijuana.

The governor said in a statement, “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”

Do not expect Vermont to become like Colorado or California. The state maintains that cannabis is a controlled substance and the sale of it is prohibited. It will remain illegal to consume it in public places. Also in the bill, “Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited.  Schools, employers, municipalities, and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.”

What is unique about the Vermont move is that it was driven by a legislative effort, whereas other states have been led by voter initiatives. The governor vetoed a similar bill S.22 last year. This new law is set to take effect on July 1.

“After more than 15 years of hard work by MPP and our allies in the state, adults in Vermont no longer need to fear being fined or criminalized for low-level marijuana possession and cultivation,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This is a great step forward for the state and the whole region. Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims. We are looking forward to working with lawmakers and state leaders to continue improving marijuana laws in the Green Mountain State.”

Smart Approaches to Marijuana or SAM said in a statement, “Unlike some reports, this bill will not legalize marijuana sales. While SAM  always opposes any legalization measure that will inevitably increase use rate among our youth and make our roads more dangerous, we recognize that since H.511 stops short of legalizing sales, it can be seen as a compromise.”

Vermont’s Cannabis History

Vermont banned marijuana in 1915. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2004, passing without the governor’s signature. It was expanded in 2007, also without a signature form the governor. New legislation in 2015  failed to pass as did S.22 in 2017.

A study in 2014 estimated that legalized adult-use marijuana would bring up to $75 million in tax revenue for the state. Proponents of recreational marijuana said it would revisit the idea following a new study being conducted that would be released in 2019.

 



About Us

The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


READ MORE



Newsletter


Company


Back to Top

You have Successfully Subscribed!