On Thursday, May 5, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 99-44 to approve an amended bill that would allow four well-regulated non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.
I am pleased to announce that the Senate has approved the amendments, and the bill is now on its way to the governor to be signed into law!
It is expected that Gov. Peter Shumlin will approve the bill. He has stated his support for marijuana reform publicly in the past and has been a consistent ally.
Hopefully, with Gov. Shumlin’s help, medical marijuana patients in Vermont will soon be able to access the highest quality medicine safely and affordably.
In a great show of respect for the will of the voters in Montana, Gov. Schweitzer vetoed H.B. 161, the bill that would have repealed Montana’s medical marijuana law. That law, which was approved by a large majority of voters in 2004, has come under criticism lately, and overzealous lawmakers are doing everything they can to gut or eliminate the program.
While this is a wonderful sign of support from the governor, medical marijuana patients and businesses are still at risk. The legislature is currently considering another bill that would seriously damage the ability of patients to access their medicine, and would destroy the legitimate medical marijuana industry that has emerged in Montana. S.B. 423, and especially the House version of the bill, would add to the already staggering unemployment rate in Montana and would effectively send patients back to criminal organizations to get their medicine. It would also severely limit the number of patients for whom a caregiver can grow marijuana.
Hopefully, the Senate will reject the House’s version of “repeal lite” and insist on a more compassionate proposal. Even if the Senate rejects the House’s unworkable bill, though, the Senate version was also too onerous and unworkable, especially for pain patients. Patients will likely need to rely on the governor to see the error in this bill as well, and suggest reasonable regulations for Montana’s medical marijuana industry that do not hurt patients or their caregivers.