Vermont Lawmakers Poised to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis Sales


Vermonters will soon be able to legally purchase adult-use cannabis without having to cross into neighboring Massachusetts.

Late Tuesday evening, the Vermont House of Representatives and the Senate reached an agreement on a compromise bill that legalizes, regulates, and taxes retail sales for individuals 21 years and older.

Under current Vermont law, adults (21+) are allowed to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana without facing a civil penalty or being forced to pay a fine. Medical marijuana sales are also legal in Vermont, and adults (21+) are allowed to cultivate up to six plants for their own personal use.

While possession and use of recreational cannabis have been legal since 2018, the legislature has dragged its feet on establishing a regulated system for legal sales.

As written, S. 54 — versions of which had previously passed both the Senate (23-5) and the House (90-55) — will establish a 14% excise tax on cannabis products, in addition to a 6% state sales tax.

It will also create a licensing system that favors small businesses. Small cultivators (1,000 sq. ft. of canopy or less), women and minority-owned business applicants will be prioritized priority.

Additionally, an independent commission known as the Cannabis Control Board will be created and tasked with regulating the sector and issuing licenses. A 12-person advisory committee will also be formed to contribute expertise on public health and safety, social equity and other regulatory and compliance issues.

Cannabis flower cannot contain more than 30% THC and concentrates cannot exceed 60% THC. Meanwhile, all medical and adult-use cannabis must be tested by an independent lab before it can be sold to consumers, and flavored vapes will not be allowed.

“This final agreement has been a long time coming,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Legislators should be applauded for their patience and their persistence. Vermont urgently needs the jobs, business opportunities, and tax revenue that S. 54 will provide.”

The bill will now head back to the Senate and House floors for final approval before being sent to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk for a signature.

With Scott’s signature, Vermont would become the second state in the U.S. to approve the sale of adult-use cannabis through its legislature. If signed into law, the act would take effect on October 1, 2020 though dispensary licensing could take two years.

It's worth noting that 76% of Vermont residents support allowing adults (21+) to purchase cannabis from regulated dispensaries.

Recall that lawmakers in New York and Pennsylvania are also looking to legalize cannabis without voter approval.

Tags: Vermont

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