Today, the Vermont House passed H. 511 in a 81-63 vote. Gov. Phil Scott has already pledged that he will sign the bill after it passes one more procedural vote in the Senate.
H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July. Meanwhile, a governor-appointed task force will issue a final report on how the state should tax and regulate marijuana sales and commercial cultivation by December 15, 2018.
If you are available next Tuesday, January 9, that would be a great day to visit the State House. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and allied reform organizations will participate in “a full day of press, advocacy and education” beginning at 10 a.m. in Room 10 of the State House. For more details, and to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page.
Tuesday may also be the day the Senate passes H. 511.
Vermont legislators have a unique opportunity in 2015. Instead of leaving marijuana production and sale in the hands of illicit dealers, they could decide to move forward with legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.
Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would end marijuana prohibition in Vermont. Senator David Zuckerman (P-Hinesburg) introduced S. 95, which would make marijuana legal for adults and allow the state to begin regulating marijuana production and sale. It would also allow adults to cultivate two mature plants in an enclosed, locked facility.
If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your representatives and senators today and ask for their support.
Beginning this week, the Rand Corporation will send representatives to Vermont to work with the state’s Secretary of Administration on a study of the effects of taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, the Manchester Journal reports.This research was mandated by an amendment to a bill that made several improvements to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Vermont will be funding the initial part of the study, paying Rand $20,000, with up to $100,000 in private donations coming from the non-profit organization GiveWell. Rand Corporation is a non-partisan organization with no official position on marijuana legalization.
Governor Peter Shumlin, Commissioner Keith Flynn of the Department of Safety, and other top officials have expressed interest in learning more about how marijuana regulation would impact Vermont. State Senator David Zuckerman, who sponsored a marijuana regulation bill this year, said he was enthusiastic about the study process: "I think the study will help with legislators and the public who inherently think it's a good idea but want evidence they can hold up to show people." Matt Simon, MPP’s New England political director, said, “The narrative from Colorado has been 'so far, so good.’ The sky clearly hasn't fallen." The report is due to be completed by January and lawmakers hope that it will lead to an informed debate on marijuana policy in the coming legislative session.