In the state of Vermont, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to consume and even produce cannabis for personal use. However, despite everything full marijuana legalization brought about, Vermont’s legislature still doesn’t account for marijuana sales. That’s precisely what the bill that appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February aimed to resolve.
The primary goal of this proposal was to create a Cannabis Control Board on a state level. The new system would tax all marijuana sales at 10 percent, and local areas could also choose to implement an extra 2 percent tax. Furthermore, the Board would also have the power to issue licenses to marijuana farmers and retailers as well as operate testing facilities.
And all of this is more than just fantasy. In fact, the Senate committee approved the bill in a 4 to 1 vote on Friday, February 15th. The details of the bill were worked out by the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Democratic Senator Dick Sears.
However, clearing the committee was only the first step on the road to legalization. The next step would require the bill to appear before the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees. While the bill that appeared before the committee was better than the current legislation in Vermont, it still wasn’t perfect. So before we talk about the future of the bill, let’s see how the original proposal changed.
One of the major flaws of the original bill is that it didn’t take product delivery into consideration. In fact, it would have made it impossible. That’s why the committee approved the requirement that the Cannabis Control Board ought to outline delivery recommendations according to the delivery services with other legal states.
Additionally, at least one member of the Cannabis Control Board must have experience in social justice advocacy. After all, the history of marijuana criminalization has a lot to do with that very subject. To that end, the bill ensures that people with criminal records wouldn’t be excluded from the legal cannabis market. What’s more, the Board would need to create opportunities for the communities that had suffered under marijuana prohibition.
Meanwhile, Democratic Representatives Linda Joy Sullivan and Maxine Grad proposed another piece of legislation in mid-February. They called for expungement of criminal records for people with misdemeanor marijuana possession sentences.
Still, should the bill become state law, the Board would start issuing retail licenses by April 2021. Even though more than a third of the Senate is already sponsoring this bill, its fate remains uncertain. Some lawmakers, like Republican Governor Phil Scott, are still concerned about driving under the influence. But then, legalization advocates would point out that alcohol is regulated and sold as well.
In summary, the current Vermont law allows the personal use and even cultivation of marijuana. However, this bill may give cannabis legislation a huge upgrade when it comes to commercial sales. So we’d certainly love to see how this story unfolds.