Last Update: June 26, 2014
Poll shows 57% of Vermonters support regulating marijuana like alcohol; legislature passes bill to improve medical marijuana access and study impacts of legalization and regulation
The case for regulating and taxing marijuana in Vermont was bolstered in May 2014, when a poll commissioned by MPP and conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute found 57% support for the idea. Only 34% of Vermonters said they were opposed.
The strong support for this reform is reflected at the highest levels of state government. Gov. Peter Shumlin has repeatedly said he is open-minded on the issue and that he wants Vermont to learn from what is happening in Colorado and Washington. Additionally, Commissioner of Public Safety Keith Flynn has said he supports taking “a hard look” at the idea, and Health Commissioner Harry Chen has said he is “open” to the issue. Attorney General William Sorrell has publicly argued in favor of decriminalizing the possession of cannabis plants, and many legislators have gone further by saying they support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Clearly, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont.
Vermont's "hard look" at the issue will begin in 2014, as legislators have approved a study of this topic. Gov. Shumlin was quoted saying the study is a good idea, and we certainly agree.
Please take a moment to send a message to your legislators asking them to end Vermont’s pointless and counterproductive war on marijuana.
Over 1,000 patients now registered; legislature passes bill to expand access!
This year, MPP worked with the legislature to expand Vermont’s law so more patients can benefit from safe, legal access. S. 247, sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), passed the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Shumlin May 27. This new law will eliminate the cap of 1,000 patients who are currently allowed to access dispensaries, allow naturopaths to certify patients, and allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients. The bill also authorized a study of whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be added as a qualifying condition. The bill also authorized a study of the impacts of cannabis legalization and regulation by the state Secretary of Administration, which will report on its findings by January 15, 2015.
To view the rules for the Vermont Marijuana Program (VMP), please visit the Vermont Criminal Information Center website.
Vermont decriminalizes marijuana possession
On June 6, 2013, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed H. 200, which eliminated the state’s criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and replaced them with civil fines. This was a major victory for MPP and its legislative allies in Montpelier, who worked hard to build support for this sensible reform. Leading law enforcement officials, including Attorney General William Sorrell and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, supported the bill, which went into effect July 1, 2013.
MPP Legislative Analyst Matt Simon and Gov. Peter Shumlin at the signing ceremony for H. 200.
Click here for details on how H. 200 changed Vermont’s penalty structure.
As a result of this reform, Vermont police and prosecutors now waste less time and taxpayer money on enforcing laws against marijuana possession. Individuals caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in the Green Mountain State are now fined but do not receive a criminal conviction. Those under 21 are now generally sent to diversion.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Vermont, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.