Vermonters enjoy legal home-grown cannabis; bill to regulate retail sales passes Senate, pending action in House
Last update: January 8, 2020
After successfully legalizing possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older in 2018, reform advocates in Vermont are working to finish what they started in 2020 by passing S. 54, a bill to regulate and tax cannabis sales. On February 28, 2019, the Vermont Senate voted 23-5 in favor of the bill. On May 2, the House Government Operations Committee approved it in a 10-1 vote. Unfortunately, the House adjourned in May without completing its work on the bill and bringing it to a vote. The bill now picks up where it left off in January 2020, the second year of a two-year legislative session.
House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski described the delay as a temporary setback. "It is a top priority for us to take it up in January," she said.
In December, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson — who has not been enthusiastic about the issue — conceded that, “there is a solid tri-partisan majority in the House that would like to see tax and regulate pass this year.”
Click here for a summary of the bill, which will continue to be considered by the House Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees.
If you live in Vermont, please contact your state representatives today and urge them to support S. 54.
On January 22, 2018, Gov. Phil Scott signed H. 511, a bill legalizing possession and limited cultivation of cannabis by adults 21 and older. It took effect on July 1, 2018. Although nine other states had legalized marijuana by ballot initiative, this was the first time any state legislature legalized for adults’ use through the legislative process rather than by a vote of the people.
Click here to read a summary of the law.
MPP and other members of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana are continuing the push for a sensibly regulated system for cannabis production and sale. We are very grateful to our allies in the legislature for their votes in support of ending marijuana prohibition, and we’d especially like to thank Laura Subin, the Necrason Group, and all our allies at the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana for their hard work.
Medical cannabis laws have improved over time
On June 8, 2017, Gov. Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that significantly improved patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorized an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allowed existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, a sixth dispensary (which can also have a second location) will be authorized.
You can read a complete summary of the bill here.
In 2016, the Vermont Legislature and then-Gov. Peter Shumlin agreed to improve the medical marijuana law by passing S. 14, an MPP-supported bill that enables patients with glaucoma or chronic pain to qualify for the program. (Previously, the standard was “severe pain,” a much higher standard than “chronic pain.”) The new law also reduced the required minimum provider-patient relationship period from six months to three months and included other small, yet positive, changes.
In 2014, 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 change in law eliminated the cap of 1,000 patients who were allowed to access dispensaries. It also allowed naturopaths to certify patients, allowed dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and called for a study of the potential impacts of legalization and regulation. To view the rules for the Vermont Marijuana Program (VMP), please visit the Vermont Criminal Information Center website.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Vermont, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s email alerts.