On Wednesday, the Vermont Senate gave final approval to a bill that will improve access to medical marijuana and remove the arbitrary cap of 1,000 patients who may benefit from dispensaries. S. 247 was approved by the House last week, and the bill will now move forward to Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk where it will receive his signature.
Sponsored by Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham), this bill will increase possession limits for dispensaries, allow them to deliver medical marijuana to patients, and permit naturopaths to certify patients for the program. Additionally, the bill was amended by the House to initiate two studies: One will explore the possibility of adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for the state's medical marijuana program, and one will evaluate the potential impact of making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.
That’s right — not only did Vermont legislators improve the medical marijuana law this year, but they are already gathering the information they will need to consider sensible marijuana policy reforms during next year’s legislative session.
Vermont’s medical marijuana program has come a long way since the law was first approved by the Legislature back in 2004. In 2011, MPP worked with Vermont legislators and our allies to secure approval for four state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. As a result of that law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the fourth dispensary began serving patients in southern Vermont last Tuesday.
This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.
We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247 would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.
S. 247 has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.
If you are a Vermont resident, please email your senator and ask them to support his sensible bill.