Montpelier, VT — Today, the Vermont Senate cast a final vote (23-6) in favor of S. 54 — legislation that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales. Last week, the House of Representatives approved S. 54 in a final vote of 92-56. The bill now proceeds to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, who has not said whether he will sign it. You can find a summary of the bill here.
The Senate is also expected to pass S. 234, a bill that would require the automatic expungement of all criminal records for past low-level cannabis possession offenses, and send it to the governor’s desk. In addition to expunging records, the bill would decriminalize possession of cannabis in amounts that are up to twice the legal limit for adults and reduce some cannabis penalties. You can read a full summary of S. 234 here.
If S. 54 is enacted, Vermont would become the 11th state to regulate and tax cannabis sales for adult use. Currently, Vermont remains one of only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal but where adult-use sales are still illegal and unregulated. The other jurisdiction is Washington, D.C., which has less autonomy than states. Congress has prevented D.C. from legalizing and regulating cannabis sales.
Support for this legislation is widespread among Vermonters. A poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project in February found that an overwhelming 76% of Vermont residents support allowing adults 21 and over to purchase cannabis from regulated, tax-paying small businesses.
Statement from Laura Subin, director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana:
“If Governor Scott signs S. 54 and S.234, Vermont will take the next critical steps towards truly fair and sensible cannabis policy. Tens of thousands of individuals — disproportionately Black and Brown people — will no longer bear the burden of criminal convictions for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Patients and adult consumers will be able to purchase cannabis that has been independently lab tested. There will be license priorities for minority- and women-owned businesses and small farmers, and the state will be required to promote participation in the emerging industry for those who have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition. Now is the time for Vermont to move forward.”
Statement from Matt Simon, New England political director at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“Vermont legislators should be applauded for their hard work fine-tuning the cannabis regulation bill and sending it forward to the governor’s desk. This was a difficult compromise, but legislators worked hard to ensure that a wide range of concerns were addressed. S. 54 and its companion bill, S. 234, both represent critical steps forward for cannabis policy in Vermont.”