If no action is taken by Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott before Wednesday, the state will become the first to legalize cannabis through the legislative process, and not the result of a ballot initiative.
The legislation has already been approved by both chambers of the state legislature and the governor has only a few more days to decide whether to sign it or to veto the measure.
Although Governor Scott has not been an advocate for the cannabis industry because he is still not sure it is healthy, Scott has certainly become more favorable on cannabis. Earlier this month, after both houses approved the legislation, Governor Scott’s spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley released the following statement:
On the issue of legalizing marijuana, the Governor has said he is not philosophically opposed, but we must ensure certain public safety and health questions are answered.
Legislation to Significantly Expand the State’s Cannabis Market
Vermont currently has a small medical cannabis program and only has four medical cannabis dispensary licenses (less than 4,000 registered patients). Current law allows patients to only do one or the other, not both. The legislation also allows dispensaries to operate as a for-profit entity (currently required to operate as a non-profit).
If the legislation is approved, beginning in July 2018, it would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of weed, two mature plants and four immature plants.
The legislation would also create a study commission to look at other state models from a taxation and regulation standpoint. This study will be used to make recommendations for Vermont’s adult use market.
A Significant, First of its Kind Move
The passing of Vermont’s cannabis legalization bill would be very significant because it would be the first state to originate and pass within a state legislature. Every other state has passed legislation following a ballot initiative.
One reason why Vermont may have taken this path toward legalization is due to the fact
that Massachusetts and Maine are expected to have retail stores open next year. A primary benefit that comes with regulating and taxing cannabis is the money remaining in the state and not going into cash registers in Massachusetts or Maine.
We encourage people to support this legislation and reach out to Vermont Governor Phil Scott.