Vermont Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtFebruary 27, 2020
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6min8260

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
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4min8252

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
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4min12660

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.

 



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