Vermont senate passes bill to legalize marijuana use

Vermont senate passes bill to legalize marijuana use

Vermont senate passes bill to legalize marijuana use

Vermont’s senate on January 3rd passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use, which would make the state the first in the nation to do so through the legislative process rather than a ballot initiative.

Vermont senate passes bill to legalize marijuana use
FILE PHOTO: People roll a marijuana joint on the informal cannabis holiday, 4/20, corresponding to the numerical figure widely recognized within the cannabis subculture as a symbol for all things marijuana, on the Common in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 20, 2017.

Republican Governor Phil Scott is expected to sign the bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled Senate by a voice vote. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the measure last week. Although Vermont is one of the most politically liberal states, it is also one of 23 in the nation that do not allow ballot initiatives.

The Vermont bill would allow those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, two adult plants and four immature plants beginning on July 1. It does not immediately clear the way for retail sales of the drug, leaving that up to a commission created last year to study how to tax and regulate it.

Passage would put the state directly at odds with the Trump administration. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy easing enforcement of federal laws banning the drug in eight states where it is legal.

“Vermont in particular doesn’t care very much what the attorney general thinks,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. “With the way this bill is written, having a few plants, there’s nothing that the feds could do even if they wanted to.”

Law enforcement groups in Vermont have criticized the legalization drive, saying the drug poses health risks and that there is no way to quickly test drivers who might be intoxicated by marijuana.

Neighboring Massachusetts, nearby Maine and six other states have legalized marijuana use as a result of voter initiatives.

New Hampshire’s House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a similar bill to legalize recreational marijuana use. That state’s governor, Republican Chris Sununu, has said he opposes legalization.

Marijuana advocates say that legalizing sales of the drug will help to phase out the existing illegal market and allow states to take in additional tax revenue.

Five of the first states to legalize the drug – Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada – together generated more than $485 million in tax revenue off marijuana sales in the first nine months of 2017, according to an analysis by the Marijuana Policy Project.

Original Article By:
Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston

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Vermont has become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana legislatively.

Vermont has become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana legislatively.

Vermont has become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana legislatively.

Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a bill Monday legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 and older. It allows for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, as well as two mature and four immature plants. Vermont becomes the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, but the other states did so through ballot initiatives.

Vermont’s law also is notable for what it does not do: create a state marketplace for sales of the drug.

Instead, Scott has directed a marijuana advisory board to study what is needed to implement a legal marketplace in which marijuana is taxed and regulated, with plans to report findings to the governor by Dec. 15. Scott is concerned about sales in the state and what he believes are weak penalties for those who sell the drug to minors.

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511,” Scott 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.”

The measure creates a number of new marijuana laws, including stronger penalties for selling marijuana to people under 21 or enabling their consumption of the drug. It also makes it a crime to use marijuana in a vehicle with a child present and makes the consumption of marijuana in public illegal.

Scott said the commission must create educational campaigns around marijuana and ways to keep the state’s roads safe.

“To be very direct: There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial ‘tax and regulate’ system for an adult marijuana market,” Scott wrote.

The law will take effect in July.

“We applaud lawmakers for heeding the calls of their constituents and taking this important step toward treating marijuana more like alcohol,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (Progressive/Democrat), believes the law is a step forward, but he said the lack of a legal marketplace in Vermont makes the law incomplete.

“In a tax-and-regulate scenario, you bring a lot more above board,” Zuckerman, a longtime legalization advocate, said in an interview.

Because there is no legal marketplace, marijuana will not provide a method for raising money that could be used to fund education initiatives or drug treatment. Zuckerman said people opposed to marijuana legalization have told him that if the state is legalizing the drug they would rather see a taxed, regulated market than one that decriminalizes possession or cultivation of the drug.

“I think there’s a lot of missed opportunity with this method, but I do feel it’s a step forward in having our laws reflect reality of general consumption in our society,” he said.

Some who oppose marijuana legalization are praising Vermont’s bill. Kevin Sabet, the founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization, said the bill allows people to possess an “excessive” amount of marijuana and doesn’t protect children from improperly stored marijuana products. But, he said, it is a “heck of a lot better” than what other states have passed.

“Advocates had to lower the bar and work so hard to even get this passed in Vermont,” Sabet said. “This essentially assures legalization of sales won’t ever be signed by this governor. Scott has essentially gone as far as he’ll ever be willing to go on marijuana.”

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Vermont – Another Step Forward – Cannabis Culture

Today, both houses of the VT Legislature have passed S22 which makes up to 1oz of cannabis legal, allows home grown, and sets up a commission to evaluate options for the VT Legislature to consider in the future for adult use legalization.

Believe it or not, we’re actually on the verge of passing a sane cannabis bill in Vermont, with ONLY ONE step left: for Governor Scott to sign this common sense bill, supported by a majority of Vermonters. If there was ever a time to raise your voice, it’s now. Call the governor at 802-828-3333 and urge him not to oppose progress, social justice and The Vermont Way!

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Vermont Senate Approves Bill to Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use and Eliminate Penalties for Home Cultivation

Statement below from Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate approved a bill on Friday that would regulate the production and sale of marijuana and eliminate penalties for personal possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older.

The Senate amended H. 167, an unrelated House-approved bill, to replace it with a revised version of a marijuana regulation bill that passed last year in the Senate and failed in the House. The Senate also amended H. 167 to include the same home cultivation provision that is included in H. 170, a bill that has been making its way through the House. H. 170 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. The Senate proposal would allow unlimited small-scale cultivation licenses for producers no larger than 500 sq feet. The marijuana regulation bill that failed in the House last year, S. 241, did not include a home cultivation provision.

The Senate-amended version of H. 167 will receive one final vote before being sent back to the House for consideration.

Most Vermont voters are in favor of the policy changes proposed in H. 167 and H. 170, according to a survey conducted March 20-21 by Public Policy Polling. Fifty-seven percent support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana, and 54% support regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol. The results are available at

Statement from Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“Most Vermonters think marijuana should be made legal for adults, and they’re looking to lawmakers to come up with a plan. We applaud the Senate for approving a thoughtful alternative to marijuana prohibition that would account for public health and improve public safety. We would love to see the House step up and join the Senate in supporting this sensible reform. If the House isn’t willing to support the Senate’s proposal, it at least needs to support its own Judiciary Committee’s plan and pass H. 170.”

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The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is a broad coalition of citizens, organizations, and businesses working to end marijuana prohibition in Vermont and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed. For more information, visit

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New England Cannabis Convention: April 22-23, 2017

With recreational use looming in both Massachusetts and Maine, the 2017 New England Cannabis Convention will be the largest and most significant industry event in the northeast.  200 local and national exhibitors, 100+ industry expert speakers, programming tracks on careers, investment, medical marijuana education and live demos.

Date: April 22-23, 2017
Place: Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Mass.
Times: Sat, April 22: 11am – 6pm  & Sun, April 23: 11am – 6pm


The New England Cannabis Network (NECANN) was conceived during a discussion lamenting the lack of an established resource hub for  the rapidly expanding Medical Marijuana industry in New England. Events where patients, advocates, businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and consumers can connect, learn, and grow.  We decided that a locally owned & operated  Convention focused on the New England market (and each state’s current medical and recreational status) would be a superior alternative to an outside corporate giant dropping a generic, National-Business focused “canna convention” on New England.

NECANN hosted a series of successful events in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine in 2015, drawing over 10,000 attendees, hundreds of vendors, and dozens of speakers.   In 2016, NECANN focused on bringing every aspect of the industry together for one huge show in Boston on April 23 and 24.

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On February 25, following weeks of testimony and careful deliberation, the Vermont Senate made history when it voted 17-12 to pass S. 241 and send it to the House of Representatives. This bill would end Vermont’s prohibition of marijuana for adults 21 and older, creating a regulated and taxed system for marijuana production and sale.

Gov. Peter Shumlin made waves in January when, during his state of the state address, he called for the legislature to develop and pass a marijuana regulation bill in 2016. The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee and other committees responded by scheduled detailed hearings on the issue, and MPP aired a TV ad featuring former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney, which began airing in late January.

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